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neutrondecay
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Posted - 07 Jul 2020 :  12:02:47  Show Profile Send neutrondecay a Private Message  Reply with Quote
On elven barbarians:

@ShaunSunday_Art, ~6 May: is there any official precedent for Elven Barbarians in the Forgotten Realms? Asking for a friend, who is me.

@TheEdVerse: Sure. Many wild elves are barbarians (and rangers, for that matter), and this is in published canon Realmslore.

On the intelligence of mimics:

@mythicalbeast43, May 8: @TheEdVerse im sorry to bother you but i was wondering if you could give insight as to why mimics are now nothing more then feral monsters. But when you created The forgotten realms they could speak and were actually more common to speak then to not.

@TheEdVerse: There are several sorts of mimics (intelligent, less-so "killer" mimics, and so on). The 5e designers just haven't been bitten by (and so, reminded about) one of the smart ones yet. The ones who can lure by vocal mimicry, not just visual. Or as Dove once put it, "If you must 'go' in unfamiliar surroundings, be rather careful about where you sit down." (!)

On the state of Waterdeep's harbour:

@ShayanFilmStuff, ~9 May: TheEdVerse in the 14th century, Waterdeep's Harbour was very clear, but by 1479 it had become brown and murky. Under Laeral, has the harbour cleared up? Also, how did the merfolk let it get so dirty?

@TheEdVerse: First, Mistshore was burned to get rid of most of it—which means everything aboard the ships plunged down into the harbor when the fire reached vessel waterlines. Not only did that dump poisons and even some living aquatic monsters into the harbor, the taint killed some merfolk and forced many of them to relocate away into the Outer Harbour to avoid being sickened and dying.

Very shortly thereafter, some of the Xanathar’s agents diverted some ewers to give themselves more subterranean space—and a lot more foulness began to flow daily into the harbour. Merfolk who tried to fix the latter were slaughtered by an undead eye of the deep Xanathar servitor. The Xanathar’s reach is long. However, Laeral’s is even longer, so that servitor is gone and remedial sewer work has been done and some mighty spells cast, and the harbour waters are clearing up.
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neutrondecay
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Posted - 07 Jul 2020 :  12:11:44  Show Profile Send neutrondecay a Private Message  Reply with Quote
On the road(s) again:

@AlexMcclay2000, May 9: @TheEdVerse Quick question since i cant find the answer, What is the average size of tracks in the realms (the dotted lines in the 3e map), like the Dusk Road?

@TheEdVerse: We JUST did this!
"Dotted-line roads/wagon trails have at least 30 feet of "crown" (traveled area), with a grassy verge of about another three or more feet per side before pitching down into grass-lined drainage ditches, on either side. The idea here being that wagons can easily pass each other without danger of wheels catching, or projecting-to-the-side loads snagging on each other. So, 30-foot minimum, except when cutting through rock (mountain passes/prime ambush areas!), and wherever the road comes out onto exposed bedrock, the cleared area widens into a layby/stopping area/turning area.
Signed,
Eddie The Road Inspector"

On Shar's work in forming the Shadowfell:

@ivstinus, May 9: @TheEdVerse I just learned that Shar apparently made the Shadowfell? Is this different from the Shadow Plane we used to be familiar with? Since 5E I had always assumed their similarity and simply a renaming via Realms perspective. Then of course Ravenloft was *in* it..

@TheEdVerse: “Made” is a strong word (remember that almost all we know of what the gods did, except what their avatars do in front of mortal eyeballs while striding around Toril itself, is told to us by deities, their servitors, and their clergy, and just may be propaganda). If I was writing down history about this, I would change the word “made” to the word “caused.” What Shar did was successfully manipulate Cyric into murdering Mystra, causing the Spellplague (as the dying Weave ‘went wild,’ great ripples crashing across it from Weave anchor to Weave anchor). As existing wards and spells failed all across Toril, and wizards went mad, Shar was busy elsewhere. Out among the planes, to be precise. Where, caused by the widening ripples, the Elemental and Energy Planes collapsed, merging roilingly into the Elemental Chaos.

Shar played lockkeeper, exerting all of her personal power (and she’s one of the few deities who can work with necrotic energies without being diminished or altered by them, and understands the properties of necrotic energy) to steer as much as she could of the necrotic energies flowing from the collapsing Negative Energy Plane so that rather than being lost into the stew of Elemental Chaos, they flowed into her home plane, the existing Plane of Shadow (we wrote of this on page 69 of the 4e Forgotten Realms Campaign Guide).

This changed the Plane of Shadow, and clergy of Shar will tell you that “the Shadowfell” (Shar’s name for the altered Plane of Shadow), was her “creation.” So it is, but she didn’t create it out of nothing. If I took the outer panels off my old tractor and replaced them with pieces of a Ferrari, I have ‘made’ something new, but it’s still my old tractor, that I bought rather than made from the ground its tires sit on, up, underneath.

With its new necrotic energies, the altered Plane of Shadow gained some new properties. Many souls of the dead came now to the Shadowfell, and had to pass through it to get to the Fugue Plane. And—and this was the entire reason why Shar acted as she did, hoping to increase her own power and reach thereby—the necrotic energies of the Shadowfell were the new energy source for, and root source of, all shadow magic. The power and reach of shadow magic cast/called upon in the Prime Material Plane (on Toril) had been subtly ebbing and fading for some time, and by this move Shar boosted shadow magic and her own might, in the Realms.

All planes change, over time influenced by energies leaking from, and actual invasions from, adjacent planes; the planes don’t exist in isolation, but affect each other constantly (though post-Spellplague, the Astral Sea and the Elemental Chaos surround and separate the other planes, and so act as buffers between them). So the Plane of Shadow has been called many things by sentient mortals, down the ages, such as Shadowland, Shadow, and “the demiplane of Shadow,” and these different terms don’t always merely denote different mortal ways of viewing the same thing, they actually describe different versions of the same plane as it evolves.
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neutrondecay
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Posted - 07 Jul 2020 :  12:31:38  Show Profile Send neutrondecay a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Back to the main feed:

On preserving poisons:

@RidianG, ~15 May: @TheEdVerse So i know the venom breaks down rather fast if harvested. Have alchemists or poison crafters in FR ever developed a stabilizing agent to prevent this issue?

@TheEdVerse: Oh, yes. Arethra’s Amalgam, made from a secret blend of three different herbal distillates (drakentongue, feverfew, and tansy), a pinch of powdered moonstone, and a drop of basilisk blood, is a nigh-universal stabilizing agent that not only preserves the properties of liquids it’s added to, and is itself safely ingested, it also maintains hues of mixture AND keeps them mixed together. Sometimes known as “reth” for short, it’s a reddish-pink, translucent, gummy liquid. It has a shelf life of twenty years or more, if not allowed to boil (which ruins it instantly), and turns brown when it’s “no good.” Commonly sold by the 4-ounce vial for 12-20 gp (low end in a busy large-city shop that has a large stock of them, and prices quickly slide to the high end of the range in rural or wilderland areas, where there’s a scarce supply).

On democracy:

@NessusResident, May 16: @TheEdVerse My question, mostly for roleplaying purposes is: Is there anywhere in the canonical Realms that actually has or has had democracy, that could be used as an in-game reference/model?

@TheEdVerse: If you can call the real-world USA, Canada, the UK, Australia, and New Zealand "democracies," then the Lords of Waterdeep are certainly a "democracy." There are also many city-states in the Realms that have ruling councils (majority votes decide policies).

@NessusResident: Isn't Waterdeep an oligarchy? I mean democracy, as in somewhere all citizens (or at least a large subset, such as those who own property) decide by vote who's in charge. As far as I understand it, the Masked Lords decide who will be Masked Lords, with no input from the people?

@TheEdVerse: Here's the problem with that: there are no TRUE democracies. Even ancient Athens, in which in theory all citizens had a vote, excluded women and all slaves. Canada. the UK, and most Commonwealth countries are, or started as, constitutional monarchies. The USA is a republic, and arguably as much or more of an oligarchy as Waterdeep (the Masked Lords CAN be chosen from all walks of life, and don't have to own property [they DO have to have an address in the city, but can rent or stay in an inn], whereas the US electoral college memberships are controlled by two entrenched political parties). Many city-states in the Realms have even more "democratic" ruling Councils: the guilds elect one rep, the nobles another, the burghers (wealthy moneylenders = local banks) a third, and so on. Most real-world modern folks use the terms "democracy" and "freedom" very loosely. Looking objectively at Waterdeep and the modern USA, I'd say Waterdeep is the more democratic place. In both places, wealth tends to equal power, so wealthy people tend to get into "the corridors of power" if they want to. Olden-days Waterdeep, where either warlords or nobles ruled, wasn't democratic, but the Masked Lords are masked to prevent coercion, and their ranks (although tending towards corruption by the "old boys' network" factor of people who are Lords choosing friends or business colleagues or relatives to be appointed to the Masked Lords) have been filled, in recent centuries, by people who "aren't" something (as in: aren't nobles, aren't guildmasters, etc.) which has led to the fractious Lords' meetings seen in DEATH MASKS, and Lords at odds with the Masked Lord (Neverember and after him, Laeral, were chosen because they were outsiders, not longtime city residents who might be part of one camp or another). So the Lords have to bargain with each other, issue by issue, to get votes needed to pass a new law or regulation or city policy, and many things get modified in the debate. So lawmaking is by majority vote, and the people voting represent all of the citizenry (high and low, all races and genders and ethnicities) which is the essence of democracy.

EVERY real-world democracy can be labeled (this one's a constitutional monarchy, that one's a republic, or this one's an oligarchy, that one's a theocracy, etc.), but as we saw in DEATH MASKS, the Masked Lords aren't free of public pressure at all, and their personal agendas (or those of the group they represent, or belong to) get derailed time and again by public demands, and by the groups they belong to not having monolithic views. And there are also criminal interests (the Xanathar, Bregan D'aerthe) who like all of this political mess and onfusion, because it gives them freedom to operate in the loopholes and cracks, so they try to keep it going, in part by working to keep Masked Lord membership diverse so nobles or guildmasters never dominate (again).

@nckestrel: This seems a long thread for not really saying anything about how Waterdeep is a democracy. Just other democracies aren’t perfect, and Waterdeep’s lords are diverse, so it’s a democracy. And having a diverse lordship isn’t anywhere near any definition of democracy.

@TheEdVerse: Hmm. Sounds to me like you missed the parts about laws and policies being decided by majority vote, and any resident of the governed region can get to be a voter.

@nckestrel: I saw majority vote, but it looked like it was the masked lords that were voting. What do you mean by “can get to be a voter?” That implies not all are, and then how many are?

@TheEdVerse: Just as not every citizen in most real-world democracies gets to sit in a legislature and vote directly on laws/policies/regulations, not every Waterdeep citizen gets to do so, but they have elected representatives (the Masked Lords) who do. Any city resident CAN become a Lord.
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neutrondecay
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Posted - 07 Jul 2020 :  12:47:20  Show Profile Send neutrondecay a Private Message  Reply with Quote
On souls and human sacrifice:

@Kendradream, ~16 May: from a convo on Reddit:what happens to souls of goodly creatures sacrificed to evil deities? Does the evil deity devour their soul, or is it enough to feed of their pain during sacrifice? Do the souls still end up with their intended (good) god?

@TheEdVerse: The soul should, unless something else happens to it, eventually end up with the god they have most reverenced (=good deity). Although some deities “devour” souls, as do some creatures, both are really always consuming the emotions (and some memories) attached to the soul; the devoured soul itself will recoalesce, later, and drift to its intended goal. Such damaged, lessened souls are nearer to empty vessels than those who die and go more directly into the embrace of ‘their’ deity.

On Elminster and Elmara:

@bunnywoomy, ~16 May: A question for you, @TheEdVerse! I noticed Elminster took the identity of Elmara with little difficulty early in the Elminster series I've been reading. Does Elminster still take on this identity like elves blessed by Corellon?

@TheEdVerse: Very rarely, as Elmara was a priestess of the Mystra of the time, the Mystra who in various mortal forms became Elminster’s lover. Reviving her when he now serves later Mystras ‘feels wrong’ to El.

On Waterdeep's Scroll Street:

@David_Pryde, ~May 18: @TheEdVerse I have an untitled Thann adventurer thinking of buying property on southern corner of Scroll Street and Snail Street. He wants to become First Earl of Scroll. Any interesting history about Scroll Street?

@TheEdVerse: Sure. Scroll Street got its current name (renamed from Bendulph’s Lane, after the man who began it as a paved cul-de-sac with five buildings for rent (by him, by the room or suite) clustered around it, built on what had been his stockyard paddock) when most of the ground-floor shops were rented by scribes, who lived above their shops and hired ‘underscribes’ to work for them at very low wages by throwing in room and board (in the rest of the rooms above the shops), so a short stretch of Scroll Street became the locale of choice, if you weren’t a noble or someone else rich enough to summon a scribe to you to do work, for you to find a selection of scribes to quickly copy something, draw up a contract or trade agreement in quadruplicate (a copy to each party, plus a temple copy for the temple holding the money, plus a tax-record-remittance copy for the Palace).

So for nigh two centuries Scroll Street was a hive of scribes, who earned most of their coin as copyists for daily mercantile trade. (Then and now, it attracts a trickle of interested folk who assume “scroll” means a spell scroll, and magic can be bought and sold in Scroll Street. Largely untrue, though it’s correctly rumored many scribes have a handful of spell scrolls they bought as investments, and will sell only for very high prices to the desperate.)

Then Scroll Street started to attract some wealthier renters, including mapmakers and bookbinders. The most interesting event it hosted was a band of adventurers arriving to harass a scribe who was secretly a novice mage—adventurers hired by a creditor. Their violence frightened other scribes living on Scroll Street into sending their fastest family members to call on Watchful Order aid, and the street briefly became a battlefield, in what became known as ‘the Shatterbone Fray’ (thanks to various adventurers being hurled forcefully into exterior building walls by various spells, then urged on their way by a chain lightning spell unleashed by an irked wizard arriving in the street to buy a blank workbook to record his spellcrafting experiments.

There are also persistent rumors of doppelgangers dwelling among the scribes of Scroll Street (these rumors are true, and the doppelgangers are spies for the Xanathar, to keep eyes on the two expert forgers/counterfeiters among the Scroll Street residents, and to watch for anyone beginning to regularly sell spell scrolls (which hasn’t happened yet, at these addresses).
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neutrondecay
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Posted - 07 Jul 2020 :  14:24:45  Show Profile Send neutrondecay a Private Message  Reply with Quote
On in-universe awareness of spell levels:

@RodrigoAlcanza, ~May 18: @TheEdVerse Master Greenwood, how is the greatness or power of spells classified in Realms (or in D&D in general)? I'm talking about spells level and slots. The same as D&D rules, 0-9 spell level (plus 10th +) or exist a Realms classification? How do spellcasters refer to this?

@TheEdVerse: Most sages and mages in the Realms use the terms and classifications seen in the PHB, expressed thus: “cantrips” and then spells “of the first” (1st level), “of the second” (2nd level) and so on.

On beverage sale and transport:

@bedirthan, May 20: @TheEdVerse in the Realms are bottled milk and beer served in ten packs due to the ten day?

@TheEdVerse: No. ;}

Milk and beer are transported by the cask (big) or keg (the "barrel" you're used to) or handkeg (small, rope handles both ends or in a net around it, for easy handling), and only poured out of these into flasks for serving. Some large city establishments (large inns, big taverns, clubs, guildhalls) have tuns (GIANT casks, that never move, rest in cradles, and have spigots) in their cellars that are filled from incoming casks.

Milk and beer are usually poured out of such storage containers into glass flasks or stoppered decanters only for serving. Only the high-volume establishments listed above would bottle them, and it's a matter of funnel-pouring into bottles (the funnel being topped up before uncapping, and pre-sized to hold a "bottle-full"), then the filled bottles corked and either chilled or later serving, or taken straight to table, depending on what liquid's inside and how particular patrons prefer the temperature of their quaff.

Some places (like a real-world British off-license, back in the day) may fill a jug or ewer brought by patrons to a side-window, and a few will sell a bottle of beer (not expecting to ever get the bottle back, so priced accordingly), but no one sells "packs" of beer, cider, or anything else. Many places sell a handkeg of ale (ranging from about 8 US gallons, so a very rough equivalent to half of a modern real-world "pony keg" or "quarter barrel," up to a whole one) and the cost is typically 1 gp (2 sp for the keg, Which doesn't mean your characters couldn't start a fad of assembling and selling packs...which just might catch on!

@LeslieCourtne14, May 20: How would they chill liquids?

@TheEdVerse: Most taverns and eateries have an ice-cellar. (Lots of blocks of ice. Purchased from ice-sellers. In summer, Auril clergy make LOTS of coin selling ice they've made.)
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neutrondecay
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Posted - 07 Jul 2020 :  14:44:55  Show Profile Send neutrondecay a Private Message  Reply with Quote
On Derlusk:

@bunnywoomy, May 21: @TheEdVerse Another question! I just bought your source book, and in it I saw Derlusk is a city of scribes and scholars. How does it compare to Candlekeep in volume? Is it a major center of learning? Any unique schools of thought developed there unique to the Borderers?

Derlusk is a port city of winding old streets crammed with two- and three-storey old houses. Most, at street level, are bookshops, selling all manner of books, from collected sermons to lurid fiction chapbooks to old histories. Upper floors of these buildings are offices for scribes (who write letters for fees, e.g. love letters, or copy texts for patrons who want a second copy, and who often write and publish poems and fiction in their spare time); letter-press publishers; living quarters; or private libraries (used by sages who write detailed, in-depth answers to questions, for fees). So the city contains far more books than Candlekeep, but many of them are duplicate copies of various tomes, and a lot of them are trashy fiction. The sages and scholars are experts at retrieving information, and knowing a little about a lot of things, so they know HOW to retrieve it (like knowing the names of important merchant families of Iriaebor two centuries ago, so you know what to look up when trying to find out more about mercantile feuds back then). So think of them as veteran real-world librarians, more than philosophers. Nor are they monks of Oghma and Deneir. Derlusk is the readers' paradise, not dedicated to preserving knowledge, but dedicated to selling books, preserving and collecting books, and writing and printing new books. Nobles from all over Faerûn pay merchants to go there and find them "good reads," and so it's the place where merchants sell libraries or books they've salvaged in their trading. It would be a mistake to think of Derlusk as trying to compete with Candlekeep, or fostering philosophers or schools of thinking--but it IS a place that can supply Candlekeep or schools of thought with necessary tomes. Quite a few folk have managed to get into Candlekeep by proffering rare, forgotten tomes they bought at Candlekeep (and luckily for them, the monks didn't yet have in Candlekeep's vast library).

Anyone thinking of starting a fire in Derlusk to watch the whole city burn might be dissuaded by various legends known in the Borders, the Vilhon, Tethyr, Ormpurr, and around the Lake of Steam, that doing so will bring terrible curses down on the arsonist.
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neutrondecay
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Posted - 07 Jul 2020 :  14:47:43  Show Profile Send neutrondecay a Private Message  Reply with Quote
On the Vremyonni:

@WhynotDragons, ~May 25: @TheEdVerse Hello! ... The 3rd ed. Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting has a lot of great information on Rashemen, but I have a lingering question about the society: why are the vremyonni secluded when male divine casters are not?

@TheEdVerse: The vremyonni wield some highly destructive spells, forbidden to all other Rashemi because of the damage they can do to people (so, some of the ruling witches no doubt fear being slain) and the land. The matriarchal rulers of Rashemen want to keep the identities of individual vremyonni secret (which is why they are always masked when in Rashemen) so they can go out into the wider world as spies, not known to be vremyonni, and so anyone who does identify an individual as one of the vremyonni won’t know what battle-spells that particular male arcane spellcaster of Rashemen can cast. Vremyonni are forbidden to practise or experiment with spells away from Running Rocks in normal (peacetime) conditions, and are discouraged from joining in daily Rashemi society because the ruling witches don’t want competition (and unrest; certain vremyonni in the distant past got very good at gossip and rumor and manipulating witches into rifts and factionalism and hatred or mistrust of each other). The vast majority of vremyonni enjoy seclusion, as it affords them maximum freedom to study magic and further their mastery of the Art (those who don’t often find ways to slip away from Rashemen and disappear into the wider Realms).
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neutrondecay
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Posted - 07 Jul 2020 :  14:58:06  Show Profile Send neutrondecay a Private Message  Reply with Quote
On the office of Magister after the Spellplague:

@TheArtistArcane, ~May 25: Whatever happened with the Magister of Mystra? That was probably one of my favorite pieces of lore from back in the day and seem to never hear anymore about the office. And would it be possible for a newcomer to claim that title in lore?

@TheEdVerse: The Magister went insane and then her head literally exploded when the Weave ‘went wild’ at Mystra’s death/the onset of the Spellplague. So there was no Magister for some time. Then there was a flurry of ambitious young spellcasters challenging for the office, and either gaining it only to soon be themselves challenged, or failing and dying in the duel.

The office is claimed by challenging and spell-defeating the current Magister, so that’s how a newcomer could become Magister. On rare occasions, a Magister resigns (usually to accept death or to enter Mystra’s service as a Weaveghost, leaving their body behind) or perishes by misadventure, and a likely successor may be approached by a manifestation of Mystra or Azuth, or a Weaveghost servitor of Mystra, to take the post. If they accept, they gain the insights and abilities of the office instantly (described by some as “the ultimate rapture”).

There have even been Magisters who have peacefully surrendered to a challenger, handing over the office without strife.

Elminster hasn’t revealed to me who is Magister at this moment, and neither has any other Chosen or servant of Mystra.

On the fate of Selûnarra/Opus:

@FrankMcCormick, May 24: @TheEdVerse Whatever happened to Selunarra, Shade's "good twin"?

@TheEdVerse: Selûnarra (Opus) itself (the floating city) crashed and was destroyed at the same time as almost all of the other flying cities of Netheril (in the event remembered as Karsus’s Folly”). It was widely and correctly believed among Netherese survivors (almost all of them of Low Netheril, meaning they were ground-dwellers serving those aloft in the lfying cities) that many Opans survived by magically teleporting elsewhere just before the wild Weave-surge caused by Karsus trying to seize the power of Mystra. The rest were snatched to safety by the goddess Selûne.

The first group were scattered across Toril, and were both bewildered at the sudden ending of their lives of luxury, and horrified at what had happened. They soon found themselves fleeing and fighting off all manner of creatures who’d resented what the Netherese had become and done, and wanted them destroyed. The second group were delivered by Selûne’s grace to a distant, wild continent of Toril, where they had to start over, homesteading in the wilderness. Most of them chose to live simple, quiet subsistence lives, using magic as a last resort rather than a casual daily tool.

Their fate in “today” Realmsdate? NDA.
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neutrondecay
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Posted - 07 Jul 2020 :  15:25:39  Show Profile Send neutrondecay a Private Message  Reply with Quote
On assorted maps:

@jamalcolmson, ~May 26: @TheEdVerse Has anyone ever made an actual map of the town of Soubar? My players are travelling from Phandalin to Greenest soon, and I can find maps of all the stops along the way except that one.

@TheEdVerse: Sorry, still haven't found it. I realize it may be too late for you (not "soon"), but I have NOT forgotten you. I open a box a day, and look. Sigh.

@kiltedfiend, May 26: Need a map @TheEdVerse?

@TheEdVerse: Need to find a 1978-era map I drew. ;} In a 40-foot shipping container full of (probably a thousand) boxes, not packed by me. * I * would have labelled them!

@kiltedfiend: I hope you are able to find what you are seeking for.

@TheEdVerse: Heh. Me, too!

@jamalcolmson: Wow! I really appreciate the effort you're going to! I can only imagine what decades worth of world building looks like!

@TheEdVerse: It looks a lot like that warehouse at the end of the first Indiana Jones movie, only with MUCH narrower aisles, and stacked right to the ceiling. ;}

* * *

@Glasstastrophy, ~May 26: O great and powerful Sage of the Realms! Is there a document, sourcebook, splatbook, or article that you are aware of that shows the constellation of Toril? Is there anywhere that even lists the celestial bodies? Thank you in advance for your time.

@TheEdVerse: Sure. The REALMSPACE Spelljammer supplement. There's a pretty good overview summary at: https://forgottenrealms.fandom.com/wiki/Realmspace that lists all the sources.

* * *

@JoshBaran81, ~May 26: @TheEdVerse, was the design of Evermeet island intentionally a sea horse? Sure looks like one to me.

@TheEdVerse: Nope. My original drawing of Evermeet doesn’t look all that much like a seahorse. Some later cartographers…yeah, I can see it.
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neutrondecay
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Posted - 07 Jul 2020 :  15:54:06  Show Profile Send neutrondecay a Private Message  Reply with Quote
On the rebuilding of the Standing Stone:

@PlouffeAdam, ~May 26: @TheEdVerse What is your thoughts on the destruction of the Standing Stone? I really hate that it was torn down "off camera" and hope it is back in the current timeline. To me it represents the classic Realms!

@TheEdVerse: Don’t worry. Bruce Cordell, Chris Sims, and I all felt the same way, so when writing the 4e Forgotten Realms Campaign Guide, we made sure that the people of Ashabenford, the then-permanent home of the Dales Council, rebuilt it (to mark the reaffirmation of the Dales Compact with the restored city of Myth Drannor).

On prodigious and influential authors of spells:

@garethgarfoot, May 26: @TheEdVerse Hi Ed, whom would be considered the most prodigious crafter of new spells in Realms history? And who had the most impact on the more common spells in use? Many thanks ~GG

@TheEdVerse: It depends on who's doing the considering. Many archmages are preening narcissists, and would claim the "most prodigious" title for themselves. As for who had the most impact: Azuth and the Chosen of Mystra, who decide which spells to scatter scrolls of, to be found, and which spells to try to suppress or to teach or encourage the sharing of (by local guild rules, MageFair manipulations, etc.).

I would deem Elminster to be the most prodigious, because he rebuilt so many Netherese and other magics into "everyday useful" spells widely known today.

On the identity of the Hidden Dragon:

@AyeneaGamer, Replying to @TheEdVerse and @Artie_Pavlov, ~May 26: Is it the gold and silver dragon sisters that own a store in one of your cities?

@TheEdVerse: Noble guess, but no. :} The trick to finding the hidden dragon is that said wyrm has hidden in human shape for so long and so well that published Realmslore sees the being as a human, not a dragon.

@LonePaladin, May 26: Maybe this explains why Volo is still alive. Or Durnan.

@TheEdVerse: No, both of those longevities have been clearly explained in lore. Durnan is still sitting on a few potions of longevity; he and his wife have imbibed many already.

Volo is unwittingly one of Mystra's 'Weave anchors,' invested with some of her divine fire, which has kept him alive on quite a few improbable occasions.
Many others, like Mirt (trapped inside a blueflame magic item) survived the Spellplague and its aftermath in one form of stasis or other.

On the Wealdath after the Spellplague:

@LVBluePigeon, ~May 26: @TheEdVerse Just a short question for now. I'm a big fan of the Elven Folk of the Realms and I wonder, What is the current state (post-1374 DR) of Myth Rhynn and the Wealdath? Source material is from Volo's Guide to Baldur's Gate II (post 1374 DR) after the Spellplague. I know the Mythal was corrupted, but how is the integrity of Myth now in the modern Realms setting?

@TheEdVerse: I answered this here on Twitter a few years back: that mythal lingers, but is more corrupted than ever: wild magic effects, astonished monsters teleported in and out between Myth Rhynn and distant locations on Toril, the Wealdath more monster-ridden and alive with wild magic than ever. The elves who dwell there have dwindled greatly in numbers, some as casualties and some just relocating for safer wild forests elsewhere. Those who remain are wary hunters, always ready for battle. And something is stirring in the Underdark beneath the Wealdath, displaced frightened Underdark denizens up onto the surface to join the dangerous mix.

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neutrondecay
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Posted - 07 Jul 2020 :  16:14:58  Show Profile Send neutrondecay a Private Message  Reply with Quote
On divine power and authority:

@GorillaRed85, ~May 26: @TheEdVerse Awesome! Okay. So I feel that it's a reasonable assumption that within a pantheon there may be, at most, one deity that is the most powerful, who acts as a balancing force for the others, to maintain the status quo. (Io for the draconic pantheon for e.g.)
But! For all the other gods, what is it that limits their ability to affect the lives of mortals and the mortal world? What is it that limits their interactions with other deities?
Either gods are infinite or finite and if finite, what are their limits?

@TheEdVerse: I’ve created upwards of forty fantasy settings (as opposed to sf, alternate real-world, and so on) over the years, with very different pantheons, but in the Realms, Ao is the Overgod (setting limits and rules “above” the pantheon), and within the pantheon, the most powerful deity is Mystra, as Toril is a magic-rich world and she IS the Weave, and until Ao forbade her and stopped her, used her ability to cut other deities off from the Weave, (that is, the ability to work magic).
So in the Realms, the gods are fallible (like the classic Greek and Roman gods, they have the same faults and flaws as many humans, though they have what to a mortal are “superpowers”). No deity is infinite, in the Realms or elsewhere, if there’s a pantheon” the existence of other deities by definition means that any one deity has limits. The Realms deities can perish or be slain (Mystra more than once, Moander, and many others), can renounce their godhood or their portfolios (Jergal), go insane (Cyric), and often make mistakes or are deceived (even by mortals).

They are limited by their own brains (what they can conceive and create), their own powers (perception and abilities), by other gods acting against them, by their very natures, by Ao, and by the structure of Toril and of the Planes of Existence. The gods are constantly warring with each other for more power and influence, so at every turn one deity or another will run up against resistance. And some deities (Jergal, for instance) are VERY good at manipulating other deities.

On canon consistency, continuing the question of Opus:

@Greysil_Tassyr, Replying to @TheEdVerse, May 26: But this seems to be in conflict with other information. Lost Empires of Faerûn and The Grand History of the Realms both say the city was saved; LEoF explicitly has the city intact in Selûne's divine realm.

@TheEdVerse: "Seems to be" is key, here. Selûne recreated the city, as a home for those who wished to continue to dwell in it. Almost none did. Both LEoF and the Grand History are written by unreliable narrators looking at the past from much later; everything in them is subject to the same distortions of history that happen in the real world, when we moderns look back and misinterpret writings and artefacts of ancient civilizations from our modern points of view.

This is absolutely key to understanding the Realms: from my earliest writings about it, long before it was a D&D world or D&D even existed, we were seeing the Realms through the eyes of unreliable narrators. The published D&D Realms setting has always been "brought to us by" Elminster (and Laeral, and Volo, and a few others, and I've repeatedly warned all readers and gamers who'll listen that they are unreliable narrators. Some sages WANTED Opus/Selûnarra to survive, so they wrote it so.

You see, in the early days of D&D there were many "canon warriors" or "rulebook lawyers" who would argue with DMs at the gaming table that they were straying from What Had Been Written (in other words, they wanted to use their metagame knowledge in-game).

The use of unreliable narrators builds in a canon, in-game justification for DM creativity/changes, which in turn returns the game to a roleplaying experience, not an "insider-trading advantage" experience.
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neutrondecay
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Posted - 07 Jul 2020 :  16:29:54  Show Profile Send neutrondecay a Private Message  Reply with Quote
On Dhampyr and Vryloka:

@WalrockHomebrew, May 10: Y'know, I could also ask the kindly wizard @TheEdVerse himself, if there are any dhampyr or vryloka in the Realms.

@TheEdVerse: Certainly. See “Playing Dhampyr” by Brian R. James in issue 371 of The Dragon, and “Heroes of Shadow” (4e) for vryloka (I don’t think they’ve had their official 5e version yet, but they were in the Realms then!).

On Daurgothoth:

@Xjandinast, ~May 26: @TheEdVerse any news on Daurgothoth?

@TheEdVerse: Certainly, but known only to the Chosen, Mystra and Azuth, me, and now you, not the wider Realms! The Creeping Doom’s tireless explorations of all manner of magic enabled him to easily survive the Spellplague intact by using magic NOT of the Weave to take himself into an extra-dimensional pocket of his creation and riding out the chaos (as a dracolich, he doesn’t need to eat or breathe, and patience he already had, in spades). When things had settled down, he returned to Dolblunde and set about rebuilding his plaything: the Cult of the Dragon.

He still intends to use the Cult to destroy the Zhentarim, the Red Wizards, the Arcane Brotherhood, and every other group along his way to becoming the most powerful creature on Toril, and to found his race of living dracoliches (who, of course, will all serve him). However, right now he’s busy manipulating merchants and adventurers into working with or furthering the aims of the Cult of the Dragon, and recruiting and covertly testing the loyalty of new Cult agents all across Faerûn.

On the value of sacrifice (continuing the earlier topic):

@JacobVardy, May 26: Ed, if you have time, why then are sentient creatures sacrificed? Do clerics just enjoy the power? Or do worshipers give off extra potent prayers during a sacrifice?

@TheEdVerse: Life force being released (bodily energies, that is, rather than the soul) is a potent energy source in magic (it’s at the core of necromancy). To clerics whose alignment and faith ethos don’t hand them an ethical problem with sacrifices, sentient sacrifices included, it’s like getting jet fuel when others are striking flint and steel together to produce sparks.

On divine power:

@Whocalleddoc, May 26: I was always under the impression that the number of followers, and the quality of the collective devotion, directly influenced the gods' power and influence in the FR.

@TheEdVerse: Your impression is correct when it comes a god's power; a deity is greater, lesser, or otherwise in direct relationship to the strength and quality of their worship. Their influence among mortals and their fellow deities, however, is partly related to their power, but is determined more by how they wield that power: their deeds and actions.

If a mortal comes to mistrust a deity, and worships them out of fear or to keep their displeasure at bay, that worship is of 'lower quality' than eager 'love and trust' worship.

@RedNoBlue, ~May 27: Occasionally gods have died due to lack of followers, but if they’re part of a pantheon can the other deities go “Hey, my followers, worship this guy until he can get back on his feet”?

Okay, first thing: ALL of the answers I’ll be giving you are for the Realms and its deities and cosmology only.

Yes, other deities can issue instructions to their mortal worshippers, through dream-visions and manifestations (e.g. speaking out of altars or temple brazier fires), and via clergy. However, mortals have free will; they may or may not obey; it’s up to them.

And your question is rooted in monotheism; it’s important to remember that all sentient, sane beings in the Realms “believe in” and worship ALL the gods, not one god. It’s extremely rare for a deity to die from lack of followers. Cease to be a deity, yes, but it’s usually other things that kill them (other gods, for example).

@aarakocra84: On the note of deicide - why did Cyrik not usurp Mystra's portfolio when he murdered her?

@TheEdVerse: Cyric was far too insane to concentrate enough to subsume and master the Weave. Which was in chaos, like tsunamis rushing back and forth through the world. He didn't even know Mystra was thee Weave, and even sane and calm, he wouldn't have known how to take hold of it, much less master its workings and so be able to take Mystra's portfolio. Cyric is a perfect example of self-delusional narcissistic "I can do anything" without preparation or knowledge. Ao would have prevented him in any event, but I doubt Cyric could even have defeated Azuth, who was rushing to stabilize the Weave at that moment.

The Weave survived because of Mystra's foresight in turning the "mortals you must cede fractions of your power to" (saith Ao) into Weave anchors.

Cyric managed to murder Mystra in large part because he caught her unawares (no sane deity would have done what he did; it's like you trying to seize a palace by toppling its roof supports so it collapses and is destroyed...with you in the middle of it). Any three Weave anchors (let's say: Elminster, Storm, and The Simbul) could have destroyed Cyric at that moment, if they'd caught HIM unawares. Instead, they were trying to stabilize the Weave, and paying the mental price for doing so.

If the china shop is Toril, and all of we mortals are the highly breakable china, Cyric is the rampaging bull gleefully destroying everything, and the Weave anchors who are the Chosen (as opposed to the unwitting ones, like Volo) are rushing around the china shop frantically catching falling plates and vases.

History is FUN. Afterwards.

@RedNoBlue: Is there something in the balance that prevents new Gods from appearing? What prevents a town from choosing their strongest defender and elevating them through prayer to a demigod?

@TheEdVerse: Yes, there are preventions, Ao being one, but it’s more lack of room in the pantheon: place-spirits and very minor divinities appear all the time, but there’s only so much truly strong and prevalent worship to go around (when a given mortal is worshipping Tempus, and then Chauntea, and then Tymora, and then going to bed, they may not have waking energy enough left to squeeze in a new and little-known god, unless that new god has appeared to them personally and benefited them in some direct, meaningful way. The gods already on the scene dominate certain portfolios, and it’s hard for a new god to “matter.”

In theory, there’s nothing to prevent mortals selecting a mortal and praying enough to them to get them divinity, but in practise, there’s no town, city, or even realm of Toril big enough to generate enough veneration at any one time to achieve this—even if all mortals ever understood and could be convinced that it would work, or could agree on anything. Just look at our real world and see how rare FULL heartfelt agreement is on anything, for any length of time.


@RedNoBlue: Could a God give a cleric, say, Magic Missile? What in-game reason is there for not granting it? Mystra?

@TheEdVerse: Yes, Mystra is the in-game reason for denying a deity the use of any particular magic, consistently or temporarily. And she can and has ‘cut off’ deities from certain spells, and even the entire Weave (herself), denying them magic completely (though Ao put a stop to that, and swiftly). She WILL prevent a deity from overusing or misusing this power (for example, Deity X wants to grant all of his novices the power to Disintegrate anyone who stands in their way: hard NO).

But on a one-off basis, deities quite often bestow upon mortals spells they normally wouldn’t be able to wield, due to class or level, or to aid them even when they didn’t request it, if the god wants to, or to give them what they need, not what they THINK they need.

More often, however, it works in the other direction: a mortal has been “bad” (displeased the god), so the deity doesn’t grant the spell that is prayed or, sending nothing (silence) or a rebuke, or a lesser spell.

Edited by - neutrondecay on 07 Jul 2020 16:38:34
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neutrondecay
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Posted - 07 Jul 2020 :  17:04:37  Show Profile Send neutrondecay a Private Message  Reply with Quote
On naming conventions in the Moonsea region:

@MythicalSong, ~May 27: @TheEdVerse Greetings! If you can spare the time, I am interested in the naming conventions around the Moonsea. Are differance in names among nobility, and commoner? What might some given and family names be?

@TheEdVerse: The cities around the Moonsea have very different settlement origins, and so, a lot of different-from-each-other human names can be found among their residents, and they also have chaotic histories wherein nobility haven’t fared (survived) too well. In the two most recent centuries in particular, the mineral wealth and trade in smelted metals has brought a stream of outlanders into the Moonsea North, from all over Faerûn, so names from a lot of places have poured in. And all of the warfare (Zhentil Keep’s forces conquering or trying to, mainly, but also recruiting for the Zhentilar) have resulted in a lot of intermingling, from city to city, among laborers and shopkeepers and traveling merchants.

Among city nobility, who’s “in” and who’s not, right now (1490s DR), I leave to individual DMs for their campaigns, but here are some upper-crust, land-owning, wealthy families from whose ranks nobility may well be drawn (and although rulers are always suspicious of nobles whose family members are spread throughout several cities, under different rulers, that’s the rule more than the exception, in the Moonsea):

Aelcrown, Blayfeather, Corfalcon, Dunwyvern, Elhalond, Falask, Gonthan, Ironhand, Juspaer, Murnarpar, Narglade, Sabrast, Tanthmuir, Urpresper, Veldusk, Yunthaer

Popular upper-crust female given names:

Adanthe (Adanthae), Cantaere, Duandaera (Duandeira), Filfaera, Imbra, Joysarra, Mabranta (Marbrantara), Melarra, Olone, Pelarbele, Velvaele, Waencza

And popular upper-crust male given names:

Adelnar (Adeln), Chalance, Farandar, Helchess, Imdargar, Jarth, Kelrath, Perendarl, Storn (Stornadar), Torbe (Torbruth), Undevver, Yanthar

So, now, popular commoner surnames:

Alantaer (Uluntaer), Arlbar (Arnbar), Blaeth, Bukkard, Caelcandle, Daranth, Enthard, Feldreth, Gaskyn, Halfblade, Holaunth, Jesalanth, Kontor, Lhandred, Maerohed, Mreskorn, Nanth, Novaunth, Orbusk, Paerend, Relvrath, Stonespear, Summerweather, Tanthael, Telgast, Ulshield, Varshulder

Popular commoner female given names:

Alys (Alyse) (pronounced “El-EEE-ss”), Baerindra, Cauntha, (Caunthra), Darra, Evene (pronounced “Ee-VEEN”), Feene, Haevarra, Ilsharra, Joene (pronounced “JOE-enn”), Larlyra, Qara (Qarra) (pronounced “CAR-ah”), Shonda, Taldra (Teldra), Tanthe, Teltora (“Tora”), Uma (pronounced “OOM-ah”), Valanthae, Yanthae, Yelandra

Popular commoner male given names (short form given in parentheses when it so overshadows the original as to be given by itself as a proper first name as often, or more often, than the original [see also Teltora in female names]: (Editor's note - this applies to the names in both parentheses and double quotes; I have been using brackets where Ed just used commas, to indicate apparently equally-prevalent variants of the same name, and commas where Ed used line breaks, because this post is long enough already - nd)

Branth, Cordar (Cordyr), Denneth (”Den”), Elrar, Elreth, Farl, Fyndrel (Fyndrul), Garth, Halark, Hethyn (”Heth”), Jesevin, Keldred, Lundar, Mereth, Murnaen, Ossan (Ossant), Pelarn (Pelarran) (“Pel”), Sandan, Tarth, Vorosk, Wendarl (“Wend”)
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neutrondecay
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Posted - 07 Jul 2020 :  17:12:05  Show Profile Send neutrondecay a Private Message  Reply with Quote
On the gods and prayer:


@RedNoBlue, ~May 27: Finally, how much is a single voice of prayer actually worth to a God?

@TheEdVerse: Not a lot, but like pennies, or drops of water, they add up. Drops of pure water are actually a better analogy: we humans need to ingest water, sooner or later, or we die. A deity needs worship, to retain godhood (not necessarily existence, as gods that “fade away” through being forgotten become vestiges).
So one act of worship is like a speck, but mountain ranges are made of many specks. “A wise god spurns no worship,” as the old Faerûnian saying goes. And as Elminster feels moved to add: a single act of worship AT THE RIGHT MOMENT can start a holy avalanche.

(Continuing the strand about Mystra withholding divine magic:)


@RedNoBlue And if it’s Mystra saying no, could other Gods intervene? Moradin says he won’t give power to any dwarf who wields a gun? Lolth says no drow may receive power from Lathander?

@TheEdVerse: Heh. Mystra can’t say no, as per my earlier answer. Other deities can intervene, but under Ao’s enforced limits. In the examples you give, Moradin can indeed refuse to give power to any dwarf who wields a gun, because Moradin decides how Moradin aids mortals. But Lolth can’t block aid from Lathander. She can try, but Mystra will ‘go around’ her to convey Lathander’s aid, and if Lolth presses, Ao will step in and shove her back.

@RedNoBlue, ~May 28: I have a theory that ‘thoughts and prayers’ en masse actually do manipulate the Weave, essentially casting a slow-burn spell that empowers their God. Is that thinking too much like a Wizard?

@TheEdVerse: Yes, it is thinking too much like a wizard. ;} No foul, though: to a man with a hammer, everything starts to look like a nail (many wizards speculate just what you have).

Here’s the thing: Mystra IS the Weave. The Weave is ONE WAY (the fast, heavy-power one) of accessing the natural energies of the world (wind, tides and currents, heat and convection, avalanches and other kinetic, continental drift, sunlight, lightning, faezress and other radiations). Divine magic is another, but individual spells tap the Weave as a delivery system (which is how Mystra can block them). However, rituals and mass worship go PAST the Weave; they are ANOTHER way to access natural forces. There are other sorts of magic that can call on natural energies, and other means (elementals, for instance; wizards can control and compel elementals with Weave-related spells, but monster abilities are called “spell-like abilities” in many cases, rather than “spells,” for a reason.

So thoughts and prayers do manipulate natural world energies, yes, but not via the Weave, and not manipulating the Weave itself.

On unwitting Weave anchors:

@OzurtheOzarian, ~May 28: Saw in a earlier tweet you had listed Volo as an unwitting anchor, where else could I look for those? Meeting and questing for/around Weave anchors would be interesting.

Well, if they’re unwitting, they’re secrets. Look for a person in the Realms who seems to lead a charmed life, “impossibly” surviving situations and attacks that should have killed them, and they MIGHT be a Weave anchor.

ETA: Taking a break for a bit; there's a lot more to come.

Edited by - neutrondecay on 07 Jul 2020 17:15:46
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Wooly Rupert
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Posted - 07 Jul 2020 :  19:30:59  Show Profile Send Wooly Rupert a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Man, now I'm gonna have to go thru all the stuff I've compiled but not posted and flag the stuff that's been posted here.

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I am the Giant Space Hamster of Ill Omen!

Edited by - Wooly Rupert on 07 Jul 2020 19:31:11
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neutrondecay
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Posted - 08 Jul 2020 :  17:26:11  Show Profile Send neutrondecay a Private Message  Reply with Quote
OK, here we go with another batch:

On the power of faith:

@RedNoBlue, ~May 29: How do Gods sustain themselves through belief? Is there an independent power they can draw on, apportioned to them by Ao’s rule based on the number of followers they have? Or is belief itself the energy, a form of psychic emanation that the Gods feed on (for want of a better term). If so, how does it bridge such large gaps?

@TheEdVerse: Worship (NOT belief; in the Realms, all sane sentient beings “believe in” ALL of the deities) is a catalyst enabling deities to access more (or less) of the natural energies of a world/plane that I referred to in an earlier reply (wind, tides and currents, sunlight, heat, and so on).

Ao has nothing directly to do with this, and it’s not based on numbers of followers, but on amount and quality (fervence of devotion) of actual worship: prayers, deeds dedicated to the god/done while calling on the god (“Odin, guide my arm!”), offerings, etc. Deities can call on the energies of the plane where they make their home (the part of it they rule and have reshaped to their preferences) and the energies of Toril, where they are venerated: when they manifest (send visions or voices or even avatars), it’s a two-way street: these ‘sendings’ are also sponges absorbing the energy of worship and transmitting back to the deity. Again, it’s a catalyst allowing them to access more world-energies. They CAN feed on it directly, but in doing so they consume it so it isn’t still extant to be a catalyst, so they can’t use it as such to absorb more world-energies.

On the operation of the Weave during 4e:

@RedNoBlue, ~May 29: In 4th edition, when the Spellplague hit, the Weave couldn’t be manipulated due to the inherent madness of the Far Realm infecting it. Was that the reason Gods couldn’t provide the same function of spells as before?

@TheEdVerse: The Spellplague is what mortals on Toril called the Weave going wild, so wild surges happened, arcane spellcasters went mad or their brains literally exploded or caught fire, existing magics and newly-cast spells usually failed or twisted into unforeseen and unintended effects, and so on.

The Weave went wild because Mystra is the Weave, and had just been murdered; the Weave was in turmoil, with its own energies and the world-energies it accesses rippling and roiling through it in clashing tidal waves.

The only reason the Weave didn’t collapse is because Mystra had foreseen the consequences of her death, and guarded against them, adding to those mortals (the Chosen, in particular) who held a fraction of her divinity (divine silver fire) additional mortals, witting and unwitting, to be more Weave anchors. So the Weave was ‘anchored’ by many mortals, widely scattered across Toril, who were all tiny parts of Mystra. From them her vestige (seen briefly onstage in a cave in one of my Sage of Shadowdale novels) could arise to observe what was going on and give guidance to mortals who would heed her (her Chosen), and eventually she could return, and by means of these same Weave anchors the Weave could survive, so arcane magic could go on working, with increasing certainty/trustworthiness as time passed, and the Weave stabilized.

Immediately after the Spellplague hit, the Gods couldn’t answer any prayers with spells, because they were used to calling directly on the Weave to do so, and the Weave wouldn’t work. So mortal clerics could renew only 1st through 3rd level spells, just as they can when on another plane where they are out of touch with their deity. (Instead of having to go across the world to speak to someone in person, the gods had become used to picking up the telephone to talk—and when they tried to use the phone/the Weave immediately after the Spellplague hit, it was alive-crackling but not working.)

As the Weave slowly stabilized, gods found it glitch-prone; sometimes it reliably communicated spells to those praying to them, and sometimes it didn’t. So what they could use it for had changed, and not for the better. Until Mystra returned.

@RedNoBlue, ~May 29: Also in 4th, who discovered the new way to manipulate magic? Did the Arcane users realise you could still pour an encounter’s worth of power into an effective yet weaker version of the Vancian magic, or did the Gods have to tell them?

@TheEdVerse: So here we are at the last of that batch of your questions (not last posed, but last for me to get to answering).
Arcane magic, aside from the direct guidance of tutors and the indirect guidance of watching others successfully ast spells, and following the spellbooks and scrolls written by dead and gone predecessor wielders of the Art, has always been a matter of experimentation.

Working from the ‘bones’ (structure, relevant verbal, somatic, and material components) of what has gone before, a spellcaster experiments to try to cause a different effect. Even many wizards who never deliberately experiment, or set out to create a spell, do so when they substitute, like a cook in a kitchen who lacks basil but tries to make do with oregano, one material component for another.

So what happened after the Spellplague hit was that arcane spellcasters discovered their magic didn’t work, or did things they didn’t anticipate it doing (so when they cast a Fireball, what happened was instead a random Wand of Wonder effect). Moreover, other mortals, now terrified at what these out-of-control arcane spellcasters might do, or wanting to settle earlier scores, slew or maimed a lot of wizards. If an arcane spellcaster survived this tumult, they may well hide their Gift to wield magic, and just not try to work any magic at all, forever or for a long time.

Eventually, in private, they might dare to try casting something—and discover that the casting worked. If they did it again and got a reliable result, they’d discovered on their own that magic worked again.

That’s who discovered magic “had returned” or, when it was still unstable, new ways to cast that were more or less reliable for them. So there was no grand discoverer whose name should be written into the history books, there were many wielders of the Art all over Toril discovering what worked and didn’t work, and daring to use magic again.

The Gods were in the same boat: when the Spellplague hit, as I described in my previous reply, the Weave suddenly didn’t work as they were used to it working. Some of them kept trying, until eventually the Weave started working again (poorly). So the gods couldn’t tell mortal arcane spellcasters what to do, because they didn’t know what to tell them. The deities of Toril aren’t infallible and all-knowing; far from it. Many of them aren’t even expert on their own portfolios. Having a lot of brute-force power contributes to that; most of the time, they don’t need to be experts, they can batter down and overwhelm problems and situations, rather than deftly dealing with them.

Edited by - neutrondecay on 08 Jul 2020 17:44:39
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neutrondecay
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Posted - 08 Jul 2020 :  18:51:50  Show Profile Send neutrondecay a Private Message  Reply with Quote
On Ioulaum, Karsus and Larloch:

@aerothgow, May 31: @TheEdVerse hello. i've been reading some old lore books and i cannot find the specialization of Ioulaum. I know an arcanist has to have a specialization and cannot be a generalist but i cannot find his. what is his specialization?

ou can’t find it because Ioulaum broke the societal rules of Netheril: he studied and mastered all forms of magic. Initially, his major was inventive, and his minor was variation. Once he stood among the most powerful arcanists, he secretly, and then openly, started studying mentalism.

As the Oracle of Ellyn'taal, Ioulaum gained full mastery-knowledge of many powerful spells by taking them from petitioner’s minds. And today, he is an Elder Brain, working all of his spells through his mentalism.

@LeslieCourtne14, May 31: How would you say that mages like Larloch and Karsus measured up against Ioulaum?

@TheEdVerse: Depends on how you’re measuring.

Karsus was the weakest of the three because his arrogance caused him to largely ignore consequences (hence his final fate) and use his confidence to carry him through situations where others would stop, study, and experiment. But arguably, he (for an instant) achieved the most power. NOT godhood (to claim such is pure propaganda), because he never mastered what it is to be divine, he just stole the energies of a god for an instant, and couldn’t handle them.

Ioulaum was the most creatively brilliant (which is why we have mythals as they are now, in the Realms) and broadest in his studying of magic (all three arcanist specializations). Larloch was the most patient and studious, keeping a low profile, studying and experimenting exhaustively, and considering consequences far more than the other two. He mastered manipulation of others to not just do his bidding, but to alter societies and ultimately all life on Toril, from behind the scenes. He was a true emperor: making kings do his bidding all over the world. And he achieved the wielding of as much power as Karsus and Ioulaum, but in a different way: Karsus went for the full-power “Supreme Spell” to smash foes/win a situation, Ioulaum went for carrying the best, broadest arsenal of spells…and Larloch went for the “I have Plans D, E, F, and G all ready, with all of these sixteen spell-storing items I’m carrying or can trigger from afar, to augment my full mental spell load” approach.
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neutrondecay
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Posted - 08 Jul 2020 :  23:57:49  Show Profile Send neutrondecay a Private Message  Reply with Quote
On deserts:

@foggio, Jun 1: @TheEdVerse hello! I like desert settings, love FR Anaouroch and Empires of the Shining Sea! How would you describe the differences between Faerun Deserts? Calim, Anaouroch, Raurin, Plain of Purple Dust. Thanks!

@TheEdVerse: This answer is a simplication through generalization, but: Anauroch is a low-water desert of all sorts from hot sands (summer only; cold sands in winter) through wind-scoured rock to frigid ice-sheathed rock as one moves north.

Calimshan is a hot sands desert (blowing dunes, like much of the real-world Sahara) all the time. Raurin is like the Serengeti: arid plains/savannah with water-storing trees for much of the year, that has a brief "wet season" when rivers and lakes form, plants grow like fury, and herds drink deep. And the Plains of Purple Dust are literally PURPLE, due to the minerals in the pulverized rock that blows in frequent sandstorms, and (the lightest grains) hangs in the air the rest of the time, tinting even "empty air" a deep amethyst purple. The Plains are actually well-watered, but there's so little soil (as opposed to rock-dust and gravel) that very little beyond lichens and mosses and ground-hugging broadleaf plants and tumbleweeds grow: the rains that do fall, though as frequent as twice a tenday, "sink right in," the water hastening deep down into the Underdark and leaving behind a desert. So folk who have barrels and bowls and catchbasins can easily grow gardens and even small-scale crops, and live and travel quite comfortably in the Plains.

Deep aquifers make life in Raurin sustainable for those who know how to tap them, or keep to known wells and oases.

Anauroch is too large to cross alive for someone who doesn't know its oases (and desert ways), and the Calim Desert is a heat- and parch- killer.

On attempting time travel after the Spellplague:

@vengeful_jarl, Jun 5, Replying to @TheEdVerse and @ZeromaruX: Were they* working after the spellplague and either before or after the second sundering would any Netherese spell scrolls with chronomancy spells work? If so they could be worth a small fortune

* Editor's note: Chronomancy spells and things like Phezult's Sleep of Ages - this is a reply to a tweet from February 1!

@TheEdVerse: Such scrolls have always been rare and valauble, but since the onset of the Spellplague, the effects of casting a time-related spell except those that cause stasis have been random and wildly unpredictable. Usually they cause an unforeseen “side effect.” No ‘going back in time’ effort ever seems to work, except as far as back to the moment when the casting of the chronomancy spell commenced.
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neutrondecay
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On the revival of the Lake of Steam:

@bbogovich, Jun 3: @TheEdVerse Oh Great Sage, do you have any information on the western Lake of Steam region in 5e? I know Suldolphor was destroyed in 1479DR (and presumably Tulmon and Yeshpek as well). Is Mintar still under the control of Banites? How is Saelmur doing? Thanks in advance!

@TheEdVerse: The Lake of Steam has been very active from 1480 DR to date, water welling up from the Underdark into its basin and increasing river flows feeding it from mountains to the north, as well as heating up (volcanically). Its shores have returned very much to their pre-Sundering locations, and fresh ore deposit discoveries have led to many open-pit mines for iron, copper, nickel, and silver, and the rebuilding and expansion of Suldolphor, Saelmur, Tulmon, and Yeshpek. Durlusk is a major port again.

On instrument strings:

@PastorGall, Jun 6: @TheEdVerse this was probably covered before somewhere, but what are instrumemts made of normally in the realms? Wood and such as normal but what about strings and things like that?

Many strings are made of spun silk, horsehair (tails), and “gut” (dried intestines of rothé, oxen, or lambs). Only senior Gondite priests and skilled dwarven smiths can make wire fine and homogenous enough for use as strings.

On the longevity of merfolk:

@EoghanMacmillan, Jun 6: Hey @TheEdVerse @mikemearls @SageAdviceDnD, got a quick question: what's the average lifespan/age of maturity/etc. for merfolk? Been hunting around, but can't seem to find any answers.

@TheEdVerse: I can only speak for the Realms. In which merfolk are born live, are functional but not mature (cannot reproduce) at birth, become mature in 20-30 years, typically stay with their parents for their first 20-30 years, and have a normal adult vigorous lifespan of 160-170 years. If cared for by others, they may survive past 200. Childbirth years are from 20-30 to around 120.

On one particular short staircase in Undermountain:

@Saylorn131, Jun 6: @TheEdVerse Question on one of your masterpieces. Undermountain, level one, upper right corner of the WESTERN half, just left of the wandering monster chart, 50' wide by 20' deep room. Has a 10' set of stairs on the south side. No arrow indicating direction of stairs.

@TheEdVerse: Sorry, that’s one of many minor glitches: those stairs go up. The room at the top of them was once a “deep, deep undercellar” of a city building above, but the connections between it and what’s above were long ago walled up with fitted stones, then rubble, then bricks, then earth, then more rubble, then fitted stones again (i.e. DAYS of digging). When a cellar, the room has seen use as contraband storage, and as a secret cult chapel.

On gods of the aged:

@VikGray, ~Jun 6: hello, sir Ed, I was recently wondering- there are multiple gods of death and multiple gods of life, plus, gods of youth such as Lathander.
Are there exact protectors and caretakers about the elderly among the gods? How do they interact with gods of death?

@TheEdVerse: Aside from the halfling (Cyrrollalee), gnome (Segojan Earthcaller), and dwarf (Berronar Truesilver) deities of the home, hearth and life, no, but priests of Myrkul look after the dying.
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neutrondecay
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On Amaunator's hyaenodon servitors:

@TimeBust, ~Jun 6: Been developing an Amaunatori character with a pet hyena and wanted to name it after one of the deity's 13 giant hyena/hyaenodon servitors (mentioned in his Netheril... and Faiths & Avatars profiles), do any of them have names and particular traits?

@TheEdVerse: They all share the trait of disciplined savagery: they explode into battle, working together to tear open and tear apart foes (biting down on limbs and tugging hard as their fellows bite into joints), only when allowed by the god to do so. However, they are always alert and have standing orders to defend the person of the deity or any mortal Amaunator designates, until he commands otherwise (they obey his voice INSTANTLY). They are cunning, and will swiftly recognize attempts to encircle or slip away screened behind distractions. They understand disabling any opponent with visible magic items, and limiting the range and reach of items with barriers and terrain.

All of them can stand on their hind legs, carry weapons and tools in their paws (but not wield them), and cooperate with each other with precision in combat.
These thirteen hyenas look very much alike, save for three: two are visibly older (gray to white muzzles and ear- and tail-tips), and a third is darker (grayer) and larger than the rest. These two elders are female, and the biggest hyena is male.

The older of the two female elders has an eye that won’t open (the left eyelid won’t lift) due to a terrasque-dealt scar across her face. Her name is Horgaera. The other female elder is Raeglarra, and the largest hyena is Brahaligor.
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neutrondecay
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On which Realms books are best for Realmslore:

@thembutler, Jun 6: Hey @TheEdVerse , if you had to pick your top 5 publications that had an abundance of knowledge/lore useful to newer DMs(trying to catch up) running games in the Forgotten Realms, what would those be? There's so much content sometimes its hard to know where to start.

@TheEdVerse: I get asked this a lot, and the answer depends on where (geographically) you are setting your games, and their nature (urban, wilderness, underground). The Sword Coast Adventurers Guide is your 5e baseline, but for more depth and wider geographical coverage, I'd add the 3e core book, the Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting hardcover; it's the largest and most comprehensive overview Realms fact-guide published. To it, I'd add Ed Greenwood Presents Elminster's Forgotten Realms for details of life in the Realms, and then the 2e Forgotten Realms Adventures hardback for a broad city overview.

Then decide where you want to adventure: the various 5e super-adventures provide the best up-to-date coverage of places (for example, Storm King's Thunder covers the 5e Sword Coast North), and if I did a 2e Volo's Guide to an area you want to use, grab it! Then decide the nature of interests: 2e Cloak & Dagger if you want shadowy organizations and intrigue, 3e Lost Empires of Faerun if you want old ruins to explore, and so on.

Then go to the FR wiki to look up specific things. All entries have their published sources at the bottom (the footnote citations lead there) and that will show you which specific books, adventures, and magazine articles covered the elements you want. Anything not covered? Ask me!
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neutrondecay
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On dragon bones:

@PastorGall, ~Jun 6: @TheEdVerse just a random question, maybe you cant comment but would you know the weight of dragon bones at various size categories? There is no reference online anywhere for specifics like that. If NDA stops you, thats fine too.

@TheEdVerse: Well, dragons do vary from individual to individual, but here are some general guidelines, attested to by Faerûnian wizards and sages who specialize in such things.

So a Wyrmling (Medium) dragon averages 3 tons live weight a Young (Large) dragon averages 4.5 tons, an Adult (Huge) dragon averages 6.6 tons, and an Ancient (Gargantuan) dragon averages 8.8 tons. The bones of a dragon average only ten percent of its total body weight (some dragon bones are hollow, reducing its weight so it can fly more easily), so if you clean and gather an entire skeleton, the total weight will be these living weights divided by ten.

On priests and the dying:

@LeslieCourtne14, Jun 6: How do priests of an evil deity like Myrkul treat the dying vs the priests of a god like Kelemvor, for example?

@TheEdVerse: Kelemvor is judge of the dead; his clergy urge the dying to do acts that will let their souls go where they want them to be. Myrkul oversees death, and his priests comfort the dying and alleviate their pain and console them and see that they set their affairs in order, so that although "just plain folks" may fear Myrkul and his clergy, they accept death as inevitable and not to be cheated (by them). Myrkulytes have always garnered offerings and acceptance by 'being there' for the dying.

On some disappearing features in Rawlinswood:

@_Joe_Raso, Jun 12: Posed this question in the FR group on FB, but thought I'd try here too. 3E's Unforgettable East shows an unnamed lake in eastern Rawlinswood (now Dunwood). I'm curious if it has an official name? Same question for the hills to its south? @vorpaldicepress @TheEdVerse @gkrashos https://twitter.com/_Joe_Raso/status/1271239035445489665/photo/1

@TheEdVerse: George’s “gravitas” was well-chosen, as you’ll see.
That lake was short-lived, evaporating over the space of a few years, and appeared even more suddenly. You’ll search for it in vain today (1490s DR); all that’s left is some lower ground in the unbroken forest. And perhaps the scattered, gnawed bones of the lake’s creator, Daozor Zantskuld, an ambitious Red Wizard of Thay who sought to become Zulkir of Conjuration when Sabass was assassinated.

To impress Szass Tam, in hopes of being chosen, Zantskuld crafted a teleport spell of sufficient power to pluck a mammoth iceberg from the frigid seas west of Ironmaster and bring it to where he stood, in northeastern Rawlinswood, with a hand-picked audience of admirers. The spell worked, all too well: the iceberg appeared in midair above Zantskuld—and then crashed to the ground thanks to gravity and the spell abruptly ending, when its exhausted caster lost consciousness.

So the meltwater lake of Zant’s Folly or Zantmere was created. There was so much ice in the berg that it took some years before it all ran off, sank into the ground, or evaporated.
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neutrondecay
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On locations in the Moonsea North:

@arkanjil, May 21: @TheEdVerse ...the 5e Sword coast map has some wide lands in the north and east; do you have current or past lore on such places as the Frozen Forest, Turnback Mountains, or the lands about these?

@TheEdVerse: The best coverage of this area is in Dungeon 170, in the superb MONUMENT OF THE ANCIENTS adventure by Brian R. James and Matt James. Complete with maps of the city of Phlan, the gnoll-held settlement of Frozen Flindyke, and a closeup map of the region (full-page map on pg 56 of the magazine).

If you’re venturing north from the Moonsea, you’ll come to the Dragonspine Mountains first. Beyond them is the Ride (cold grassy plains roamed by rothé and wolves and fierce, nomadic, feuding tribes of human barbarians), then the White Mountains. North beyond that range are the Tortured Lands (The Leewai), and then the Abbey Mountains; Turnback Mountain is a distinctive tall peak about a third of the way west along the range from its eastern end, and in the heart of it (it’s a “middle mountain” with other peaks north and south of it).

Beyond the Abbey Mountains is the Frozen Forest; a chillingly-cold icewater river, the Alaphaer Run, flows north out of the western Abbey Mountains into the Frozen Forest (and almost right to the step pyramid known as the Monument of the Ancients).

The Moonsea North region is known for its sudden changes in weather, often marked by fast-moving fronts that bring violent storms on their leading edges, usually blowing to the northeast. The fiercest weather occurs in afternoon or early evening, and in spring is often marked by thunderstorms with racing, widespread lightning strikes. Winter storm fronts often bring abrupt flash freezes, temperatures plummeting and slaying unprotected creatures caught out in the open, only to rise slowly over a matter of days ere the next “icejaws” front hits.

Where the Ride is grassy and verdant, naturally well-watered (so growth is inhibited largely by the cold climate and short growing season), the Tortured Lands are for the most part parched, though the River Pelauvir does rise at about its east-west midpoint, to run east, bolstered by the Shattersoul River draining out of the Great Glacier; Flindyke stands on its north bank at the only bridge over it in the region, Maram’s Span. The western Tortured Lands are rocky, windswept, and largely bare of all life but stunted shrubs and ground-hugging mosses and lichens, a place of foothills, and canyons where water once flowed, in warmer times.

The eastern Tortured Lands are mainly dunes of frozen sand, sculpted by the fierce winds into jagged, strange shapes (hence the region’s name). The rugged landscape and severe night-day temperature swings make the Tortured Lands a place to traverse as quickly as possible, not to try to tarry or dwell in. Caribou herds and the thick-pelt wolves (and well-armed gnoll hunting bands, with their fierce dogs) that prey on them are the most numerous living things roaming the Tortured Lands.

The Abbey Mountains have had their name since the days of ancient Netheril, when Netherese worshippers of Selûne built the Abbey of the Moon (now a toppled ruin of shattered stone columns, foundations, and monster-haunted storage cellars) atop Selûne’s Crest, the highest peak of the range. To the gnolls, these are the Rabrae Hyuk (“hyar” is rock or loose stone in the gnoll tongue, “hyukla” is a crag or spire, and “hyuk” is a mountain or range of mountains; “Rabrae” is the name of these mountains, an obvious echo/corruption of “Abbey”). The peaks are frigid and windswept, only the topmost peaks snow-capped (in contrast to the White Mountains range to the south, whose name comes from their permanent cloaks of snow) and hold relatively few veins of ore worth mining; “Turnback Mountain” got its name when a group of long-ago prospectors guarded by several bands of hired adventurers against the gnolls and ogres of Thar and hobgoblins, finding little of worth but endless creatures wanting them dead, got disheartened by heavy losses and nigh-ceaseless attacks, and decided to turn back.

Perhaps they were prudent, but more recent explorers have reported no less than two dragon lairs and three shattered but extensive ruins—perhaps remnants of fallen Netherese flying cities—in the deep and nigh-unvisited-by-humans valleys in the heart of the range.

The foothills along the northern face of the Abbey range are known locally as the “mammothbacks,” and for centuries have been where treasure is cached, Ride barbarian chieftans are entombed, and gnolls lure rothé and caribou herds into natural “killing trap” funnels caused by the topography.

The frigid tundra between them and the Frozen Forest was once extensively patrolled by ice archons, now (in 5e) more commonly known as “ice elemental myrmidons,” and a few still roam the area, attacking all intruders. A greater peril on these plains are marauding remorhaz, who come south out of the Great Glacier to wander and devour. They concentrate most on attacking gnoll caravans (ore-laden sledges coming along the Remorhaz Ride caravan trail from Mount Ghaethluntar, a huge mountain honeycombed with caverns linked by natural and carved-out tunnels, and inhabited by thousands of flind and gnolls).

The Alaphaer Run is a fast-flowing, icy river of drinkable water that’s normally iced over (it runs under a roof of ice thick enough to support a heavily-laden sledge, or even a landing dragon). The river is blessed by the goddess Auril (“Alaphaer” is one of her older names), and runs through the Planes of Existence as it descends from the mammothbacks, flowing into and out of Auril’s Deep Wilds home realm several times as it heads for the Frozen Forest.

The Frozen Forest itself gets its name from the glittering ice that sheaths the needles and boughs of its close-standing conifers (at the forest’s edge, most are bent over under the weight of the ice; in the forest depths, the trees stand too close to bend, and are in fact often welded together by ice, high up, and can’t bend much). Almost entirely evergreens (the few hardwoods tend to be long-dead, bare trunks), the Frozen Forest is vast and has very few clearings (the Monument of the Ancients occupies one) and animal tracks, and no human-cut roads or trails.

The Forest is wreathed in everpresent, drifting ground fogs, which persist for the same reason the trees of the forest don’t shatter and die of the cold, and their roots can drink flowing water: warm magma flows near the surface of the earth, beneath the forest (the presence of these flows, and the running-water and forging opportunities their warmth provides, are the reason why such subterranean cities as Forlarn of the gnomes, and Glanderultok, can exist in the region).

Caribou winter over in the Frozen Forest, lynx (and even a few giant lynx) dwell in it, preying on the abundant hares, “tree-cats” (squirrels), voles, foxes, and grouse. Owls and a handful of giant owls also make this forest their home, as do fey who do not love sentient intruders of any sort. Moose, elk, and rothé forage endlessly along its verges, moving constantly to where they can find and eat new growing shoots, and moving to the lee of the forest when the worst storms hit.

At various warmer times in the past, humans have tried to settle in the Frozen Forest, and found the tumbled ruins and foundations of even more ancient settlements, in which enchanted weapons (including a crossbow of speed known as “The Army Scythe,” encountered in the Baldur’s Gate computer game) were found. Persistent hobgoblin attacks decimated these settlers, until the few survivors fled south to the cities of the Moonsea shore. Not all of these ruins (from early Netheril?) have been thoroughly explored, for even then, fell monsters lurked in their deepest underground passages and cellars. SOMETHING, Elminster warns, has prevented dwarves and gnomes from establishing permanent settlements or forges under the Frozen Forest.

And there you have it.
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neutrondecay
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On the iron guard enchantment:

@GeorgeOlduvai, Jun 17: @TheEdVerse Does the iron guard enchantment protect against other non-magical metal weapons? Bronze or copper for example.

@TheEdVerse: No, but Elminster has heard of other spells developed by various mages that protect against other metals or non-ferrous alloys. (He's personally familiar with none of them.)

@GeorgeOlduvai, Replying to @TheEdVerse: So steel counts (by virtue of it being mostly iron) but not say...an Adamantite blade?

@TheEdVerse: Yes, steel counts, because its metallic ingredient is iron. Adamantite is an ore (its own different metal), which can be smelted and mixed into an alloy, adamantine.

Ironguard works on ferrous-dominated (mostly iron) alloys. If you add iron to adamantine, it isn't adamantine anymore, and the iron-added mix is useless for anything except ornamental castings, because the iron makes it too brittle for use in tools or weapons (one hefty blow or impact/contact will shatter it into shards). So you would need to craft a new spell, akin to ironguard, specifically for adamantine. Which is apparently very difficult to do, because various spellcasters of Toril and Oerth have been trying, for centuries, without success--but which IS theoretically possible. Elminster suggests that if you succeed, you keep very quiet about it, as the spellcasting world will beat a path to your door. And make demands, some of them, ah, "forcefully."

On toponymy around the River Lis:

@brianrjames, Jun 17: @TheEdVerse Greetings illustrious sage most high! In my diligently mapping of the Moonsea region I’ve come across a couple woodlands that seemingly have no name. The forests lie adjacent to Maskyr’s Eye between the River Lis and the Earthspur Mountains. Any suggestions on naming?

@TheEdVerse: To many folk of Faerûn distant from the Moonsea region, these are (collectively) “the Mulm Woods,” as they appear thus on early maps.

However, to anyone who lives in the Vast or around the Moonsea (in Mulmaster or Maskyr’s Eye in particular), the woods east of the trade-road are the Reddryn Woods (Mount Reddryn is the most prominent peak of the Earthspurs, due east of this forest, and it’s named for Baerlus Reddryn, a brown-skinned, flame-red-haired, tall and “spiderlike”-in-build adventurer from Var the Golden who made a heroic last stand against overwhelming numbers of orcs here, and died bloodily but took some sixty orcs with him), and the woods west of the road, as far as the River Duthlis (called by some “the River Dalton;” it’s the river that drains the Flooded Forest into the Moonsea), are the Viperfang Forest (as there was a time, in the early 1300s DR, when they were -slither with many deadly, hungry vipers; lizardfolk hunting parties later nigh-exterminated these serpents, harvesting them as delicacies, but the name has remained).

Some will tell you this forest is named for the famous/infamous (depending on one’s point of view) adventurer Jannith Viperfang, “the Lady Fang,” who dwelt in them and fared forth as a brigand and pirate in the 1320s DR, but the truth is she took her name from the trees, nd not the other way around (to conceal her true name, as she was Jandra Bleth, of the Cormyrean noble family of the same name, and didn’t want her parents to know where she’d gone and what she was up to).

[She was preying in part on Bleth shipments, and wanted to keep her options open to possibly return to Cormyr someday and claim her share of the family riches and lands. Unfortunately, death claimed her first.]

Edited by - neutrondecay on 09 Jul 2020 00:49:27
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AJA
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I thought I'd help Wooly with this one, since Ed just wrote out the equivalent of a third of a sourcebook. Minor edits for better web format, otherwise posted as Tweeted.
==================================================

@icequeenerika Sep 25 2020
@TheEdVerse do you have any more details on the Westgate noble families around 1371-1372 DR? The Bleths and Cormaerils are already pretty well-detailed, but I haven't found much to differentiate a lot of the others beyond their heads and house symbols.

Sep 30 2020 [ https://twitter.com/TheEdVerse/status/1311384758887354370 ]
HOUSE ATHAGDAL
Patriarch: Haelder Athagdal, "The Wise Goblet" (middle-aged, handsome, an owner of many vineyards and a legendary wine cellar, and a wine connoisseur; a retired rake, has just ascended to running the family upon the death of his father; unmarried and is known to have three mistresses)

Matriarch: Shaeldratha Athagdal, "the Storm Rose," a faded beauty who was famous for her temper and allure in her younger days, but has much mellowed; Haelder's mother, she's now a quiet backroom tactician who derives much personal entertainment from manipulating society in Estgate, and thwarting the plans and ambitions of rival nobles she dislikes (most of them)

Heir: Hardrammar Athagdal, a bluff playboy and "blade" who goes about with a bodyguard equipped heavily with healing potions after losing several duels (he's about a third as good a swordsman as he thinks he is)

Notable Rakes/Adventurers: Ragdarven, Hardrammar's smart, wily, and darkly handsome younger brother, a schemer and crook involved in smuggling and drug running; Deskult, a scattered, sardonic, and playboy wastrel rogue uncle, who's only kept in line by two watchful, disapproving, fashionplate (of an elder era) older sisters: Raethra and Hyldra

House Athagdal is thought of as "grand old coin, dignified and patrician and cultured." Firm of word, not crooked, but shrewd in business. Major local builders, landlords, and investors in businesses large and small, owners of much warehousing. Also, major investments in Sembian port city warehouses and residential properties.


Sep 30 2020 [ https://twitter.com/TheEdVerse/status/1311384758887354370 ]
HOUSE BLETH
Patriarch: Antemnar Bleth, a fat, sulky, glowering man of grudges and great laziness, who believes the world owes him respect and unjustly ignores his high station. Newly come to the "throne of the House," he sees himself as born into a great house that didn't deserve its exile and disgrace, as the Bleths knew the right road to true greatness and renewal for Cormyr, and were badly treated by ungrateful and envious Obarskyrs and rival noble houses. Antemnar knows some in Westgate call him "the Petulant Toad," and he wants everyone who does that maimed or slain painfully, until those who are left won't DARE such insolence. As one longtime (and carefully anonymous) merchant of Westgate described him, "Antemnar Bleth is a large pudding of spite and bile who'd be dangerous if he had any drive or practical knowledge of the world. As it is, he's like a spoiled child, lashing out at everyone who offends him—which is most of us who don't happen to be named Bleth."

Matriarch: Haraklaera Bleth, Antemnar's bitter, malicious aunt, a woman governed by her feuds and grudges. Disease recently took her elder brother and his wife, who ruled the family, to their graves, but Haraklaera "the Dagger" firmly believes rival houses had them assassinated, then poisoned with disease-coated needles afterwards so the deaths could be passed of as the results of disease-sickness. And who were these rivals? She suspects every last noble house of Westgate and Cormyr, and most of the jumped-up, self-styled so-called "nobles" of Sembia, too. Caustic and eloquent, she glides through life clinging to the tattered remnants of her once-striking beauty, looking more and more like a cadaver as the disease ravaging her (the same one that claimed her kin, that she refuses to admit she has) makes her thinner more cadaverously gaunt by the day. Her hobby is strategy games, and she forces handsome male servants to play games with her every evening. If they are wise, they contrive to lose without being obvious about it, so she can triumphantly claim their kisses and then send them away spurned.

Heir: Cronlundar Bleth, a handsome and muscular blond swordsman of great skill, who trains daily with the blade to remain a master swordsman and knife-catcher and -thrower. He loves "roistering" about the city with his gang of of swashbuckling friends, and is slowly building a network of shady, get-rich-quick business contacts among the shippers and caravan merchants based in Westgate, receiving "carefree spending money" from them in return for being a distraction (by means of the vandalism and bullying swordplay of his gang) to cover some of their illicit local deeds. He sees himself as smarter than all of the surviving elder Bleths, and resented his now-dead father (who despised him for being a lazy, wastrel fool, and often said so) and his mother, who treated him with contempt, as an "utter disappointment." Other folk of Westgate see Cronlundar as about a twentieth as smart as he thinks he is (in other words, a full-of-himself dupe and fool).

Notable Rakes/Adventurers: Vlanadar Bleth, a known pirate, smuggler, and thief-of-bulk-goods who comes and goes as he pleases, breaking into Bleth mansions late at night through windows and secret doors and passages he knows well, and otherwise having very little contact with his kin. He flits between various Sembian ports and Westgate (and, some say, Marsember in Cormyr) in the conduct of his unlawful business, is a sardonic jester and superb swordsman who has an outstanding mastery of balance and so can run along ropes stretched aloft and ship rigging without falling, can fearlessly leap from high places through windows or onto lower balconies and roofs, and has many lovers whom he charms with gifts, and uses as safe places to sleep for a night ere moving on. Vlanadar has managed to work with several guilds, caravan costers, and the Red Wizards of Thay without double-crossing or earning the ire of any of them, and has profited handsomely thereby. It's (correctly) rumored that he owns dozens of houses in Sembian ports that he rents out, and one that he keeps as a "safe house" haven to run to, and puts his profits into buying ever more real estate. He sees his kin as tiresome blunderers fettered by their bitterness, their grudges, and their sense of entitlement, and won't hesitate to frame them for his own misdeeds.

The Bleths are widely known to be a "bad" noble family, justly exiled from Cormyr and stripped of their lands and titles there for treason—and apt to treat anyone who crosses them as a foe to be punished, and anyone who doesn't fawn on them as someone to be blamed or exploited. Widely (and rightly) rumored to be smugglers who deal in drugs and poisons, and who sponsor kidnappings and other "dirty tricks" (like arson) to settle scores or get their own way in many Sea of Fallen Star ports, the Bleths make their open public coin as investors in caravans, urban redevelopments (tall luxury rental "many-mansions" in particular; the Torilian equivalent of five-floor condominium towers divided into a dozen or more units for the wealthy), and fine art (huge paintings sold to nobility in Amn, Calimshan—where they're behind a fad to purchase gilded pictures of dragons and other monsters—and the port cities around the Shining Sea). They also sponsor local coups in many small rural places that result in their caravans receiving preferential local treatment, or them owning a controlling interest in strategic wayside inns and warehouses.


Sep 30 2020 [ https://twitter.com/TheEdVerse/status/1311431725126504448 ]
HOUSE CORMAERIL (NOTE: Ed later corrected himself [ https://twitter.com/TheEdVerse/status/1311446928190853121 ] to clarify that these were his notes for "later Cormaerils" than those of the 1370s timeframe)
Patriarch: Atraeth Cormaeril "the Valorous," the epitome of the handsome, kind and cultured nobleman, fearless and just, farsighted and wise in the ways of the world thanks to a worldly adventuring youth now firmly behind him. The youngest but last surviving of three brothers (both of whom MAY still be alive, but have never been seen in Westgate, nor contacted their family in more than a decade), Atraeth was trained to run family businesses, understand margins and swindles and the cyclical manner of some types of business endeavours, and to be patient and know when to withdraw, keep silent, and be inscrutable. He has made the Cormaerils very wealthy in Westgate, Turmish, and Chessenta as a result, investing in crops, farmland, urban holdings in cities that are expanding, and in herds of edible livestock. Profits are then reinvested in clothing concerns, superior cobblers who make "fine boots," and rental urban real estate, and by these strategies the Cormaerils are now (very quietly) stupendously wealthy. Atraeth remains a soft-spoken man of few words, who loves reading and quiet discussions of world affairs over maps, with weary Harpers and others in want of a good bed, secure roof, and a fine meal for a night. The Cormaerils are one of the few families to pay for a private family Triad chapel in their Westgate mansion so they can have priests in the household to "heal all who need it."

Matriarch: Atraeth's wife, Raeleira ("Rail-LEER-ah") Cormaeril, was born a Thalavar, and the two noble families are growing closer as a result of their happy marriage (and six daughters). Known for her long, glossy mane of black hair and her unfailing courtesy and impeccable "blush" (makeup) and wardrobe, Raeleira has a brilliant, creative mind and is a shred judge of individuals, so she can see new ways of doing things, trends, and foresee how many folk will react to changes. Atraeth is wise enough to, since their marriage, let his wife make all major business and investment decisions for the family, and admires her wits. She has rather plain features and a slim, almost boyish build, but he loves her deeply for the bright and kind person she is, and they remain smitten with each other, romantic lovers still tenderly intimate (as Aunt Arautha says cattily, "tenderly intimate every damned night, all over the house!").

Heiress: Eirlandra ("AIR-lan-drah") Cormaeril, a shy, beautiful, tall blonde romantic who has an unfortunate tendency to fall head over heals in love with handsome strangers who dress and act like adventurers, even when they're really timid merchant clerks or dock laborers on holiday. Raeleira has assigned no less than four very-well-paid family servants (former adventurers, all female) to be Eirlandra's maidservants and to follow and spy on her and swoop to the rescue if she gets herself into danger (including the danger of being deflowered by the latest guy or gal she's hopelessly in love with), and luckily Eirlandra falls out of passion as quickly as she falls in, and learns a little more about the world with each passing "smite" and so is becoming more discerning about who she falls for. Eirlandra is fascinated by arcane magic, and can wield the Art, though her parents are slowing her training in hopes she'll become worldly-wise and sensible before she starts hurling fireballs everywhere.

Notable Rakes/Adventurers: Arautha ("Arr-OTH-ah") Cormaeril, an unwed, fiery-tempered, cantankerous, cigar- and pipe-smoking and garrulous old gossip who dresses revealingly in all the latest fashions despite being a leathery seventy-odd winters, and has a teasing or sarcastic opinion on everything and everyone. She escapes being tiresome because she takes life with such good humor, and because she's as smart as Raeleira but doesn't resent her or anyone, so her opinions are often informed and well-founded. She also has a wild talent for deflecting hostile spells and "having a feeling" when someone has mastery of the Art and/or is wearing or bearing a magic item, even covertly. She can be good company and has been known to lead outlander adventurers on tavern crawls, on a whim, or even join them on adventurers (armed with her alert wits, deep knowledge of Westgate's shadier establishments and alleys, and her personal collection of combat-handy magic items—known to include a corset that can fire sleep-poisoned breast-spikes).

Widely held to be a 'good' noble family (folk of their word, who behave honorably and avoid shady activities), the Cormaerils are on the quiet and aloof side, though they contribute generously to noble causes and work to make life in Westgate better for all. Not only do they believe this is the duty of all nobility, they think life in any city or realm is better if the poorest folk have better lives and see ready means of making coin, and so avoid lawlessness and lift themselves out of squalor.


Sep 30 2020 [ https://twitter.com/TheEdVerse/status/1311446409766408193 ]
HOUSE GULDAR
Patriarch: Lareskur Guldar, a haughty, hawk-nosed and flowing blond-haired man of cold looks, firm control of his voice and facial expression (a born actor) who likes to dominate any room, lording it over all others. The youngest of five brothers, it's widely (but incorrectly) rumored in Westgate that he covertly murdered his siblings to wind up the sole survivor and heir (the truth: two brothers murdered each other, a third was poisoned by a business partner he'd swindled, and disease killed the fourth). Lareskur knows about his reputation and does nothing to quell the rumors, because he likes to be feared by the populace. The inheritor of great wealth, he does little to earn anything, devoting his time to playing at being an above-all-inferiors (which in his eyes, is everyone short of the gods and their archpriests) senior noble. He loves good food and drink, has a prodigious capacity for strong drink without succumbing to debilitating drunkenness, and likes to hunt.

Matriarch: Glazrathella Guldar, a former Urdo who is even more of a sneering snob than her husband. Her striking blonde beauty and statuesque height would make her even more remarkable if she didn't wear a perpetual sneer, and spend so much time being icily dismissive. She often doesn't speak or directly look at individuals she deems servants or "common." In private, she's a passionate hedonist who takes many lovers from among the household staff and other nobles at revels, not because she doesn't love Lareskur, but because her appetites would need seven or eight Lareskurs to be satisfied. She eats very little, just takes "a taste" at every meal, and when not flirting or coupling, works in her studios (sculpting or working on cabinetry).

Heir: Harondro Guldar, a coarse-featured, raven-haired strongman who loves wrestling—and sculpting and carpentry. There's nothing at all wrong with his brains, and he's both cunning and very quick-witted, but he prefers to work with his hands to learning, reading, or paying any attention at all to matters of business, society, or culture. Revels bore him unless he can wench or wrestle or roughhouse, and he's been known to start brawls for entertainment. He thinks the family wealth will take care of itself, and that he can't possibly spend enough of it to wind up poor once he inherits, so why concern himself with it at all? If anything angers him, he searches Westgate for a worthy foe to beat to a pulp (often in a dockers' tavern) and cuts loose.

Notable Rakes/Adventurers: none still living

The House of the Black Hawk is known to be very rich, and to have a long heritage of equipping and sponsoring mercenary companies active in Chessenta, the Vilhon, Amn, and the Border Kingdoms. All of the current family also have personal sidelines in sculpting and in fine carpentry, with a reputation for building in artfully-concealed secret compartments, and selling their work via the most exclusive dealers to various Sword Coast nobles. House Guldar remains a major Westgate landlord, and owns a lot of farmland (worked by others) in Turmish. They claim a large expanse of the Gulthmere Forest as a private hunting preserve, though its exclusivity tends to be honored only in their presence.


Sep 30 2020 [ https://twitter.com/TheEdVerse/status/1311456767377903616 ]
HOUSE MALAVHAN
Patriarch: Welvlarand Malavhan, a cold-eyed (pupils like pale green ice), mustachioed, dark-haired (but going white at the temples) man of culture and taste. Always immaculately groomed and stylishly dressed, but not fussy about it, and won't hesitate to enter a brawl or dance or engage in something that will raise a sweat. Calculating, calm, fearless, and thinks "the lower orders" are far too ruled by their appetites and emotions—to deserve to lead, and to stay at the top, one must be clear-headed, a thinker, and ruthless/dispassionate. Is always interested in the new, and trends, and future possibilities.

Matriarch: Bareldaera ("Bar-rell-DARE-ah") Malavhan, wife to Welvlarand and publicly near-mute and subservient to him, but in private his queen who commands and controls him absolutely. Glossy-dark-haired, voluptuous beauty with large, liquid blue-black eyes and of tall stature and graceful gait. Tends to be dressed in ankle-length gowns with cutaways at all times (even in bed). A Waterdhavian Roaringhorn by birth, she is inquisitive and keen-witted and a master at seeing consequences and how apparently disparate social elements will go together/affect each other. Like her husband, always superbly dressed and groomed, but like him, doesn't care a whit if she gets dirty or her clothes ruined; life is what matters, not one's image. (Bareldaera speaks like that; even if describing herself, she will say "One does this, because one desires to. One habitually takes an interest in…")

Heir: Saklaerath ("Sack-LAIR-ath") Malavhan, a tall, ruggedly handsome, long-flowing-blond-haired, burly man with a long, straight beak of a nose, who doesn't at casual glance look to share any lineage at all with his parents (he looks so different from them), but is indeed their fullblood son. And much older than his two younger brothers, Ruandjack and Meirrand, and his youngest-of-all sister, Mraethe. "Sack" is fascinated by adventurers, and dreams of being one—not so much fighting monsters or delving underground, but traveling the Realms, heading this place or that on a whim, free of the social demands of being a noble and of the crowding and nastiness of Westgate, which he hates. He wants to see wilderland vistas, forests, rolling farmland, and breathe fresh air. He doesn't mind sleeping rough or working for good immediate reason (like cutting firewood, or felling a tree for a shelter for the night), but doesn't—thanks to his family's wealth—see any need to work hard, daily, for a living, and if confronted by a bossy employer, would likely land a punch on the nose of such an irritant and walk away, for good.

Notable Rakes/Adventurers: none living

House Malavhan, the Crimson House (so-called because all living members love this hue, and the major chambers of their Westgate mansion, where they entertain, are walled in crimson hangings), are major landlords and shippers, who own many caravan wagons, sponsor several competing caravan costers, and are increasingly investing in cogs and caravels that sail the Sea of Fallen Stars. The family philosophy is "charge reasonable fees, insist on prompt payment, and invest the takings, avoiding big bold gambles that MIGHT pay off in future, and investing in wars or guild struggles or controversy. Make small, steady coin every day, and wind up far ahead of those who splash their coin about or try to shove the world into new paths for possible gain."


Sep 30 2020 [ https://twitter.com/TheEdVerse/status/1311469312046239744 ]
HOUSE SSEMM
Patriarch: Tarkuld Ssemm, an aloof, stonefaced elderly man of few words, who avoids public displays of emotion as "common." His family knows that when his emerald eyes blaze, he's excited or has flown into a fury, but his face and voice will betray nothing of any strong feelings. Calculating and practical, determined to turn a profit every waking day, he despises nobles who splash coin about, make grand gestures, indulge their eccentricities, or are needlessly cruel or "loud" in their words and deeds. Restraint is the true mark of the cultured.

Matriarch: Valinethe ("VAL-ih-neth") Ssemm, of wealthy but non-noble Sembian heritage, Tarkuld's second wife (after the first died in childbirth), Valinethe is twenty summers younger than her husband. Petite, dark-haired, and the owner of magnificent cheekbones and large storm-gray eyes that give her a truly strikingly beautiful face, Valinethe is graceful and quiet—but in a low, musical voice, does all the public talking for her husband that she can. Tarkuld dotes on her, but only in private. In public, they might be two statues allied to each other, not two humans fond of each other.

Heir: Raldinor Ssemm, the only child of Tarkuld and Valinethe, a sulky, spoiled, handsome young man who looks very like his mother, but twice as tall and male. He collects models (miniatures) of ships and castles and wizards and warriors, the more exquisitely sculpted the better, and has just discovered girls—and how. Nightly he visits the festhalls of Westgate, or has the most acrobatic escorts brought by coach to the back gate of the Ssemm mansion and hustled up to his rooms (on the way, they are usually briefly intercepted by his father, who quietly tells them what horrible death of slow maiming they will experience if they harm his son in any way, or steal anything). And he's trying orgies with dozens of participants, sex with shapeshifters, sex while affected by fly spells, and anything else he can think of or find. While his parents pretend not to notice, so far as he is concerned, and hope he'll soon move on to less dangerous entertainments, and choose some regular partners.

Notable Rakes/Adventurers: Kordravvam Ssemm, a broken-nosed but otherwise strikingly handsome, debonair, lithe and athletic master swordsman who always dresses in black leather. He wenches and drinks his way through life with many a merry jest, spurning Tarkuld's company but visiting Raldinor to give him gifts—and ideas his father frowns upon—and Valinethe to flirt with her (she indulges him, but firmly resists him if she thinks Tarkuld will discover them). His adventures, which include dabblings in piracy and smuggling, take him all around the Sea of Fallen Stars ports, and on rare occasions into the Moonsea, or inland into Sembia and the Dales, and he long ago bought houses in many places to be his various havens, and sponsored a small gang of brigands to live in them when he's not there and carry on various quite legal activities as cover for their lawless ones. He did this with the wealth he made adventuring, that has made him not quite as rich as the entire rest of the Ssemm family, so he has no interest in sponging off his kin, or abandoning his happy-go-lucky life of derring-do, unless or until age and ill-health force him to settle down. (When that happens, he has plans to woo a suitable Cormyrean noble heiress and become a "rich old bad nobleman" of the Realm of the Purple Dragon.)

House Ssemm have a reputation in Westgate of having a sinister past, and connections to yuan-ti (based on nothing more than the hissing pronunciation of their surname). They are said (baselessly, nowadays, though it was once true for just two family members, operating independently of their kin) to be involved in slavery. What they truly are is hard bargainers who keep to details of contracts and pacts (and so are trusted in Sembia and the Vilhon, with the result that gangs of Ssemm-hired workers are always employed there), and are heavily invested in shipbuilding and local repairs (roofing, roof-tile-making, plumbing) in Westgate.


Sep 30 2020 [ https://twitter.com/TheEdVerse/status/1311515209157275648 ]
HOUSE THALAVAR
Patriarch: Murardrake Thalavar, a sidewhiskered, fierce-browed martinet of a man, legendary for his hot temper (his anger, however spectacular, tends to be short-lived, and once gone, leaves him genial for hours). He likes to appear stern and formidable, so his chairs are all large and grand, like thrones, and he wears various shoulder-padded mock uniform tunics trimmed with gold braid and mock decorations (metal pins), augmented by brightsilver-finish swords in matching brightsilver scabbards. He never dances or does anything else in public he deems 'undignified.' In private, he relaxes, taking long soaking baths, reading all sorts of books, and padding around in a shabby old robe and slippers.

Matriarch: Constalle ("Kon-STALL") Thalavar, a tall, buxom honey blonde with a husky voice, whose manner is motherly rather than sexy, and who treats her servants as beloved 'grown children' family. Born a commoner in Sembia, she has an eye for trends, and invests deftly in paintings, new fashions she can import, and fine-bloodline horses she can breed, and over two decades has parlayed the spending money her husband gave her when they were newly married into a fortune to rival what's in the existing family coffers. Kind and polite, she is far shrewder than she looks and acts—making people underestimate her has always been a favorite tactic.

Heir: Markeskur Thalavar looks like a younger, clean-shaven version of his father, but detests his father's stern act, and sees his bouts of rage as a serious weakness. Markeskur is the epitome of the drawlingly 'cool,' urbane young noble, too loungingly bored with the world to ever get very angry or very frightened; everything seems to mildly amuse him, or yawningly bore him. This is, of course, an act; inwardly, he's very insecure, doesn't know how he should act (he's constantly posing, and rearranging his hands, because he doesn't know what to do with them), and is watching everyone else he meets, paying special attention to powerful individuals he admires, to see what they say and do. He will copy catch-phrases, mannerisms, and fashion decisions he likes, adopting them as his own, as he consciously builds himself into a better and better noble. (Or, as his uncle Beldravagon prefers to put it, "Into more and more of a nose-in-the-air, self-important twit.")

Notable Rakes/Adventurers: Beldravagon ("Bell-DRAV-ah-gone") Thalavar, a younger brother of Murardrake (two brothers between them in age, Beldred and Torstant, are both dead, the first while adventuring and the second in a duel), is a successful, handsome adventurer who's made and lost several fortunes venturing about the Sea of Fallen Stars, and taken scores of lovers. Although he's been known to tell tall tales about his feats of monster-slaying and dungeon delving, he has survived some perilous expeditions, coolly faced both hostile wizards and all manner of horrible monsters, and survived in part because of his quick wits and agility, and in larger part because of sheer luck. He's known to be deadly with hurled swords and daggers, and to be skilled at attacking with thrown weapons while falling or swinging on lines past a target.

House Thalavar had a reputation of being crusty, oldcoin nobles who never let commoners forget they're common, but these days, folk of Westgate see that clinging only to the patriarch, with the other family members bending into being more relaxed and approachable. Their fortunes built on sponsoring mercenary companies and caravan costers, the Thalavars have left both of those endeavors behind in favor of renting out space in large warehouses they own, while their daily coin is made in building roads and bridges, or rebuilding them better.


Oct 01 2020 [ https://twitter.com/TheEdVerse/status/1311533036383678471 ]
HOUSE THORSAR
Patriarch: Palimond Thorsar, a handsome man who never smiles, but glares at the world from under heavy brows, his face set in a perpetual scowl. He drinks constantly from huge, ornate goblets without ever seeming the slightest bit tipsy, and never seems to concern himself with matters of earning coin. What does seem to consume nigh all of his waking energy is carrying on feuds (with the Athagdals and many, many wealthy merchants he judges have crossed him or failed to properly respect him in some way); he remembers every slight and is determined to pay all of them back fivefold, or more. Which he works at doing; as a result, he's become—and seems to enjoy being—one of the most detested men in Westgate.

Matriarch: Thoumea ("THOO-may-uh") Thorsar, a warm, affectionate hugger of a woman who seems determined to cuddle and kiss her way into softening her husband's every rudeness. She isn't wanton, but does like skin-on-skin contact and befriending anyone who'll have her as a friend; many who would otherwise loathe House Thorsar are mollified and softened by her embraces and friendly converse, and wind up thinking that Palimond Thorsar is "impossible" to deal with, but the rest of the Thorsars are…tolerable. Thoumea is very shrewd and perceptive, and well-read besides, not to mention benefitting from the reports of a small network of good, well-paid spies she's developed over the years to look into everything unfolding in Westgate, but she takes care to act like a simple, direct person. She may know more about everyone in Westgate, high and low, than anyone else—including the Night Masks; she just takes great care not to show it. She does, however, steer family investments and policies according to what she knows, so they tend to profit from just about every situation—nothing takes House Thorsar by surprise.

Heiress: Vuloushaea ("Vell-OO-shay=uh") Thorsar is a taller, younger, slimmer version of her mother in looks, and admires her mother greatly. She also loathes her father almost as much, but takes care to always be polite to him. She thinks feuds and holding grudges and trying to get even or more than even is utter life-wasting foolishness, and that one should live in the moment, and work towards satisfactions, and ignore all the misfortunes and times when others do you dirty as just part of life, the "tests of the gods upon us all." Personally, she laments that she doesn't seem to have the Gift for wielding the Art, so can never become a great wizard (or sorceress), so she'll have to covertly acquire enough powerful magic items to have some magical power that way. She longs for the day when she can use magic to alter her appearance and stop being a Thorsar long enough to get things done for herself in Westgate, and to taste life and adventure beyond Westgate. Perhaps she could journey to fabled Waterdeep, and meet and marry one of its nobles, winning him as herself, and not as the Thorsar heiress.

Notable Rakes/Adventurers: Sarandra ("Sar-ANN-drah") Thorsar, "Lady Bloodrake," now semi-retired from her days as a sorceress-adventurer who earned her nickname slaying pirates of the Sea of Fallen Stars and seizing or sinking their ships, so as to stop them preying on Thorsar shipping. Sarandra has firm friends in most of the cities in Cormyr and Sembia from her adventuring days, and often rides to their aid; when not doing so, she lounges around the Thorsar mansion in Westgate, nettling her older brother Palimond (and quietly making amends for some of his rudenesses, behind his back, in a more practical and serious manner than Thoumea does). She's the owner of two dancing longswords that she's been known to use in battle at the same time, to even the odds when outnumbered. She's also one of the few nobles of Westgate to go drinking in the worst taverns on occasion, to openly bed both men and women, and even to enjoy watching the goings-on in festhalls.

House Thorsar first rose to wealth by importing small wares from the Sword Coast to the Sea of Fallen Stars, but long ago diversified into becoming a major investor in farming (in Turmish and the Vilhon) so as to guarantee itself a plentiful supply of crops to ship to the Sword Coast on return journeys, and then gradually abandoned the shipping and importing, to focus on food-growing and foodstuff warehousing and preservation to feed Westgate, Cormyr, Sembia, and the Moonsea cities. Thorsar granaries remain vital in bad winters.


Oct 01 2020 [ https://twitter.com/TheEdVerse/status/1311541979617075200 ]
HOUSE URDO
Patriarch: Scirkas Urdo, a cold-voiced, lidded-eyed autocrat who considers himself the smartest man in Westgate and perhaps anywhere in Toril, save the monks of Candlekeep and archwizards. He prides himself on outthinking and outmaneuvering his fellow nobles of Westgate, and ignores the Night Masks and wealthy commoners and outlanders alike as beneath his interest; all that matters to him is besting his fellow senior nobles. He just might be the richest man in Westgate, and the Night Masks long ago decided to leave him (and his spies) alone, as they are such handy scapegoats, dupes, and ways of feeding misinformation from the Night Masks to desired ears. Scirkas firmly believes that he has earned his "rightful" place at the top of society in Westgate, and further believes that the city must become a well-run center of daily law and order both to safeguard his position atop the heap and to enable Westgate to grow and flourish as a trusted trading center, not a feared, notoriously corrupt shadyhole. So he has embraced the faith of Tyr, and sponsored local clergy of Tyr in expanding their temple and recruiting new novices and extending their reach and holy resources (freely feeding the homeless of the back alleys daily, for example, and giving out one free useful item—a bowl, a mallet, a handaxe—each tenday).

Matriarch: Lhindra Urdo, a tall, stiff, coldly polite mountain of a woman who is constantly attended by a trio of maids and dressers, as she's changing her garments and jewelry dozens of times a day. She believes in wearing the great wealth of the Urdo family on her person, to show all of Westgate just how successful they are—so stupendously wealthy that they can buy and sell all of Westgate, including every other noble house—several times over. No one else is really needed; House Urdo is the coin-vault that enables Westgate and this entire end of the Sea of Fallen Stars to run; Forget This NOT. Being first, and getting respect from all others, is what matters in Lhindra's world. She came from back alley poverty in Westgate, passed herself off as visiting nobility to get into a revel, caught the eye of a young and randy Scirkas Urdo, and is determined never to be hungry or needy again. There are many in Westgate who are so sick of her hauteur and rudeness that they heartily wish she'll die rich—two breaths hence.

Heiress: Szuldra ("SULL-drah") Urdo, a fat, sulky, unhappy young woman who is beautiful but simply can't avoid being plump, and is embarrassed by the size of her bosom and behind, no matter how richly and flatteringly clad. So she largely keeps to her rooms (from which all mirrors have been banished) and eats sweets as she cuddles her pet cats. She wants nothing to do with the social whirl, or the unwashed of Westgate's streets, and her only escape is reading lurid chapbooks about gorgeous—and THIN—young women being passionately wooed by handsome young princes.

Notable Rakes/Adventurers: none living

House Urdo is indeed the richest noble house in Westgate, by far, and this wealth has been built on moneylending (at ruinous rates), wise investments in urban real estate in Amn, and in shrewdly handling two newer, sideline businesses: spying for hire in Westgate and coastal Cormyr and Sembia, and sponsoring adventurers to find and retrieve old magic and then taking profits from the sale and use of those magics. The money comes in almost faster than Scirkas Urdo's well-trained, and very well paid, advisors and factors can invest it.


Oct 01 2020 [ https://twitter.com/TheEdVerse/status/1311548637860761600 ]
HOUSE VHAMMOS
Patriarch: Jaraedren ("Jar-RAY-drenn") Vhammos, a balding, aging but still-vigorous man who is one of the slow-to-decide-anything ditherers of life, a man of few and guarded words, no hobbies, and not much thought. He eats the same things most evenings, drinks himself into a near-stupor, and tells the same tales and jests of his youth that he's told every evening. To the same bored servants, and his wife.

Matriarch: Brezmra Vhammos, a fiery-tempered, long flame-orange-haired buxom beauty who has flashing brown eyes and a purring, alluring voice and manner. Brezmra is a spitfire who grew bored with being a trophy wife for Jaraedren but had no interest in carrying on any affairs with the "twisted" noblemen of her city—so, after an unfortunate incumbent got assassinated, or more likely killed by accident while being mugged in the street, she seized the merchant council seat for the lesser nobles, claiming she's holding it as a member of House Sumbra, which is the lesser noble house she was born into (and which now consists of herself and an impoverished aunt, Mareera Sumbra, who lives in a rented upper room paid for by Brezmra, in a bad part of Westgate), not as the matriarch of House Vhammos. This is causing much pushback from the other senior noble houses, who see this as a not-so-polite fiction to let House Vhammos have two council seats, as Jaraedren currently holds the seat for Vhammos. Brezmra is doing this not because she cares about policy, or wants the power, but for her own entertainment (deliverance from deepening boredom), and she's currently hugely enjoying every cut and thrust of the conflict she's created and is in the midst of. Suddenly, the arm candy of the most boring senior noble of Westgate is important, and everyone is paying attention to her!

Heiress: Paerendra ("Pair-ENN-drah") Vhammos is a vivacious, bored, beautiful young woman desperate to escape the prison of being a pampered noble and see the wider world and have adventures in it. She knows she's very fortunate to never want for warmth in winter, cooling in summer, a comfortable bed, attentive servants, and steady, superb food—but she is seething at the boredom, and now sees her mother hugely enjoying herself; why can't she, too, have adventures? So if any adventurers stray within reach and want to kidnap her, she'll hurl herself into their arms, just so long as they get her OUT of here!

Notable Rakes/Adventurers: none living

Formerly notorious as a crooked noble house, adroit at swindling—and at poisonings, when caught—House Vhammos long ago shifted direction in a bid for respectability, and their fortunes rose by doing diligent work in their new investments: they now invest with great care (and constant spying on their assets, which keeps them performing efficiently, so they're value for money to those who hire them) in mercenary, bodyguard, and warehouse- and caravan-escort-guardianship.


And there you have it, brief glimpses of the senior noble houses of Westgate, back in the day. Enjoy, I hope!

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AJA
YAFRP
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